The Joy and Peace of Christmas
I was asked to write a favourite Christmas memory and so many Christmases flooded in. A mixture or good and happy ones and sad and lonely ones. But the one feeling that came with the request was Joy.
Always, I have this overwhelming feeling of joy during the season. The best memory that springs to mind and that recurs often when I think on it is Christmas mass and the feeling leaving the church at the end. Coming from the North you know there is snow almost every Christmas but on Christmas Eve and to ring in Christmas day in the quiet of snow is magical.
Christmas Eve mass when I was growing up was at 11:30 pm and so you had the hustle to get ready, the crowded lot as everyone skidded to their spot, the reading about the birth of Christ and singing the hymns of worship and the solemn taking of communion. The last hymn was Joy to the World and to me the sound of Joy that broke out of the reverence of the mass was like all the angels of heaven had joined in.
Then out to the parking lot; where invariably there would be new snow…quiet snow..softly falling fresh snow and the incredible hush that only falling snow can bring.
There have been Christmases spent alone, Christmases with large families but always when I go to bed Christmas eve, I feel that Peace on earth from the quiet falling snow outside the church and the joy and peace that abounded in His people.
God has sent me to bring good news to those who are poor; to heal broken hearts; to proclaim release to those held captive and liberation to those in prison; to announce a year of favor from YHWH, and the day of God’s vindication; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who grieve in Zion — to give them a wreath of flowers instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of tears, a cloak of praise instead of despair. — Isaiah 61: 1-3a
P.S. – Joy is not the equivalent of happiness, but rather the deep conviction that we are called to be present in the work of bringing about “great things” — a better world for those who need it most.