This week we are talking about joy. My understanding of joy has been revolutionized with the thoughts a pastor presented in response to the Sandy Hook elementary shooting in 2012. I am writing this on the eve of the five year anniversary.
The gun smoke had barely settled and there was a question to a pastor about dealing with this unimaginable horror and the Christmas season. The response articulated how happiness is about circumstance. Joy, the true blessing we yearn, acknowledges and faces even the worst of human suffering.
This week's passage is a prayer of praise from Mary about God's work from the beginning of history to the current moment. The song comes following unspeakable fear and confusion. Prior to this Mary had been visited by the Angel Gabriel and told she would become pregnant. Imagine the terror an unwed teenager would feel if an angel told her she would have a child. Mary's first response is to flee to trusted people. She goes to her cousin Elizabeth who offers reassurance and comfort. It is this journey that leads Mary to sing praises to God for the mysterious work happening.
Joy is a journey. Mary did not immediately respond to her coming child with ecstasy. She had doubts, fears, and concerns. Even when she finds the power to pray and sing she does it out of relief and in yearning God will continue to deliver her. We know all to well the journey Mary must take from this point on. It is not an easy path and it is filled with suffering and grief. This moment of faith brings forth the power of God's joy.
What we seek is not a circumstantial experience of feeling good. Our yearnings are about a fulfillment even in the moments of tragedy, trauma, and anguish. We journey through life seeking something that sustains no matter what. I pray we all find true joy in this season of less sun, longer nights, and colder days. If we do we will discover the eternal presence of the Divine and sing out.