Advent Week 3: Joy
Philippians 4.4-7, NRSV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As I sit and reflect on this passage, it’s autumn; a few weeks before the beginning of Advent. The smell of the season is thick in the air. The trees are inviting us to pause and gaze at their beauty. The falling leaves do their dance to the earth below and as they do, they seem to be gently reminding us to let go. That is a recurring invitation on the spiritual journey – let go. It’s learning to exhale; to unclench our tight fists; to release our fear; to unclutter our lives; to surrender to the gracious love of the Beloved One.
In our passage today, Paul invites the community at Philippi – and all of us – to develop habits of rejoicing and prayer. “Do not worry about anything” he counsels them. Easier said than done! But there is great wisdom in that advice. Like Paul, the Sufi poet, Rumi, invites us to let go of our worrying and enter the gateway of God’s delight.
Be empty of worrying . . .
why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Worrying drains us of our energy for life-giving experiences. It makes it difficult for us to notice that the Lord is near; we struggle to find our singing voice.
Learning to live a God-inhabited life is learning to let go; to surrender. Not to ignore or suppress, but to open ourselves completely to the Divine One who already knows what our hands and hearts and minds are full of. The Lord is near. God hears our requests and is ever-present on the journey with us. Emmanuel – God is with us. Learning to live a God-inhabited life is learning to find delight and joy in our daily lives. A joy that finds a voice not despite our particular struggles but through our struggles. When we let go, we create the space where our Beloved One can enlarge our capacity for delight and joy.
The word rejoice comes from the Anglo-French rejois which means to welcome, to enjoy. This Advent season offers us the same invitation it has so many times before – to prepare a space for the Jesus-child; to welcome and enjoy this God who journeys with us; to rejoice.
Loving One, teach me . . .
to let go,
to open myself fully to your presence,
Action: Write down 5 things that you are grateful for today.
Monica Citty Hix is the Minister of Music at First Friends Quaker Meeting in Greensboro, NC where she lives. She also teaches piano and leads Spiritual Formation events for individuals and groups.