Advent Study 2020

Sharing Our Stories: December 16

Writer’s Name: Jill Beck

Writer’s Ministry: Celebrate Recovery Coordinator

Assigned Text: Luke 1:39-56

Word of the Week: Joy

We have been turned upside down this year. For some, joy has been a struggle. We as a body of people have experienced heartache and loss. We have experienced change and struggle. I have wept with those who have lost jobs, loved ones and security. On a daily basis we see through Celebrate Recovery a multitude of folks who have relapsed due to the stress of this pandemic. And yet, even as hard as it is to see through the heart breaking chaos, there have been joys. As the days pass, I can’t help but feel that God is up to what God does! Doing what we least expect. 

In our scripture readings we have experienced the unexpected child that Elizabeth and Zechariah have been longing for. No doubt, a miracle! An unexpected miracle! A fresh wind of joy in a life that was destitute to be barron. And now, another miracle! A lowly teenage girl visited by the Angel Gabriel telling her, a virgin, that she will conceive a son. Oh can you close your eyes and imagine the emotions she was overcome with? Can you picture the mixture of fear and excitement as she realizes she has been chosen by God. A lowly girl who is experiencing shame and guilt at the prospect of being pregnant with a child and yet not married. 

Mary runs to her relative Elizabeth to share the news! But, before she can share, the Holy Spirit has been at work. The child within Elizabeth, John, has leapt for joy at the presence of the Christ child that Mary is carrying. Elizabeth addresses Mary as, “The mother of my Lord,” and Mary is pronounced, “Blessed.” 

There is an awakening that quickly turns to hope and joy. A gift not only of an unborn child in the midst of chaos for this young girl, but she understands that this is an overturning of social judgement. There is joy in the air even if only within her heart. 

In the midst of what has seemed hopeless and joyless in this season, in the midst of pain and chaos, there is joy. God has made a way! Families have found their way back to the table for meals. Congregations have found ways to serve in safe and healthy ways. There is laughter and joyful sounds of loved ones. We must trust and have a joyful heart knowing that despite what the world has thrown at us, there is one who is coming that we can trust has come to restore.

Prayer: Lord, help us to have eyes to see the unexpected sources of joy this season. It has been a hard year for so many and we sit in anticipation of something new. We ask that you use us in in unexpected ways to bring joy to others as they may be experiencing heartache and loss. Lord, use us to help light the way for others. Amen

Reflection/discussion questions:

  1. How have you made a way this year for happiness?
  2. What is an unexpected place that you have found joy this year?

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