Gaudete

This year when people have asked about my favorite Christmas carol, I've been telling them that I have a growing appreciation for I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and its honesty.

In despair, I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Because yeah, when ISIS and abortion and racism and war and abuse and stomach bugs are all things, when the presidential candidates leave me wondering if maybe staying in China forever would be a good move, when everyone in the Greyhound station has their own stories of heartbreak and lost faith and what's wrong with the world --

The tidings of comfort and cheer can start to ring pretty hollow.  I can start questioning is this enough?  Is it okay to rejoice like crazy, to party with friends and sing Christmas carols and laugh and make new memories?  

Today, the third Sunday in Advent, is called Gaudete Sunday (because of the traditional liturgical reading).  So anyway, late last night I was sort of pondering that: the tension of gaudete, the command to rejoice and the lovely Christmas party with friends I'd just been at, and the clear brokenness of the world and the feeling that hate is so strong.

At the end of some journaling and praying and reading (Philippians 1, which definitely deals with the command to rejoice smack in the middle of all the brokenness you can imagine), I was left with three words echoing in my head.  Three words that made it make sense.

Immanuel.  Itaque, gaudete.

God is with us.  So, rejoice.

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