When chaos descends upon us, our instinct is to recoil. We want to escape it, and we want to lean back into what is familiar. We want to cling to what we know because what we know is comfortable. The trouble is, in our longing for normalcy, we let go of the steadying hand of grace.
In the introduction of her 2018 book, Ingrid Fetell Lee poses a list of questions to help her readers think about whether their surroundings feel joyful. I read the list of questions in the introduction with interest and a growing sense of trepidation.
Honestly, Joy seems like too much to ask for right now. It is the most difficult of the Advent virtues: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. It feels like an unlikely indulgence for the privileged, unconscionable in light of today’s news.
But if the Christmas story in Luke is framed with joy, there is a different kind of joy in John, a strange kind, the joy of tent-living.
Since we know God will keep his end of the deal in giving us “the desires of our hearts”, what are tangible ways that we can do our part of delighting in Him?
I can only begin to understand the depth of the joy that Zechariah foretold of the incarnate Word entering our world “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
The meaning of Christmas is easily lost in the glitter and hype that fill our days for weeks and months at this time of year. Much about the Christmas season is cozy and appealing. Much else about it is shallow and consumeristic. But what is the true meaning of Christmas?
Does living with plenty dull the sense of our own sin and misery? Are we even aware of our need for a Savior? Of our gratitude for deliverance? Could our material comforts and security be actually diminishing our joy?
Despite the differences in their situations – the unlikely pregnancy of an old woman who bore the shame of barrenness for years and the completely impossible pregnancy of a young unwed virgin – these two women faced many of the same challenges as first-time mothers.
No matter what is going on in your story at the moment…no matter the pain, the sorrow, and the hurt, there is always something to be grateful for.
I have come to believe that “fun” should be a result of our proper pursuits and it should be less of a pursuit in and of itself. We are called to love God and love our neighbor. Also, we are told to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. What do these things look like within the context of sport and play?
Fun is the enjoyment of life to its fullest potential, whether the situation or experience is simple or complex.
Playful fun should be redemptive and life-giving. The well-being of shalom best describes the fun we seek with all of our heart. It is like the sound of children playing in a pool, baptized and cleansed, joyful and grateful.
Even as Christmas is a time of heightened joy and excitement, the moments of grief, pain, and sadness can feel all the more powerful. So how do we navigate grief at Christmas?
As Christ redeems this world from the effects of sin, our giving is one important way we can participate in and contribute to his redemptive work.
When I was 13, I learned what made my heart sing. It started with a simple calculation, one that, in sports-crazed small-town Northwest Iowa, seemed to make sense.
What gives you joy? What blows your hair back? What gives you life?
There is more to me than my ebullient exterior. It’s not that I am not truly joyful–I am! Internally, however, I am sometimes plagued with self-doubt. I expect a lot of myself, and I’m hard on myself when I don’t measure up to my own expectations.
Sometimes (most times?), especially when we’re thinking of God, our lives seem to be in a bad place.