Words are funny things – they get misused, overused, weaponised and trivialised. The words of Advent – Hope, Peace, Joy & Love are no different. In fact, recently I have heard such challenges raised in respect to each of these words. And – truth be told – that’s rather hard to hear since they have an explicit connexion with our journey as Christians and, in particular, during the Advent Season!
Well … words have power … they literally define reality and the when we wake up to this reality, we realise we have choices. It’d be easy to acquiesce the ‘watering down’ of the Advent words and sort of move on … but then here’s a parallel of what happens.
Let’s take the word pretty … it’s innocuous enough. It’s got that flowery softish-ness to it, right? Well according to Katie Makkai, in this poetry-slam in which language sharpens her challenge, we better take notice because without (re)claiming words and knowing their imbued power, we are basically allowing others to create it for us!
Well here’s the point friends, Brothers & Sisters, doubters & questioners: Joy possesses the power to change not only your world, but those with whom you interact. Joy possesses the potential to face life’s struggles, horrors, celebrations and ultimately its transient nature with embodying in action an internal sense of gratitude. It may be simple to write these words, but it’s not easy to do … and that’s what Advent waiting forces us to confront.
We may like the quaintness of some story about a wee babe en route to change the world, heck transform it! But … yep there’s that nefarious conjunction … the reality is that transformation is not passive! It’s not simply bound to some historical moment in a narrative that some doubt – perhaps even appropriately so. It’s active, it occurs now. It does not occur in isolation, it takes work, it takes you to wrestle with these words, not just intellectually but in your life … what do they mean?
Question … that’s what we are called to do in Advent and the answer(s), in this case what it means to Be Joy, determines the trajectory of our discipleship. The answer determines the degree to which we live into the Kingdom to Come now. The answer determines the extent to which the pending arrival of a child is simply some disembodied story or a myth that lives in us to such an extent that it leads us into action …