Jesus, Light of the world, come and sit with me.

Shine your wisdom unto me.

Jesus, Light of my life, come and be still with me.

Direct me in your truth.

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Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice. As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.

Isaiah 9:1-4

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The cold and flu season is high upon us, and no one wants to be in the midst of it. Wash your hands thoroughly, cough into your elbow, and load up on the vitamin C, folks! While contagious illnesses are nothing to desire, there are other experiences that can be admirably shared with one another, such as joy.

Laughter is contagious, and so is joy. The question, however, remains about the definition and nature of joy. Is it a heightened expression of happiness or, more specifically, a religious synonym for happiness? I think it is neither, and today’s passage provides us with a clue.

Joy is the communal experience of emerging out of the cold darkness and into the warmth of a perfect light. In other words, the experience of joy is connected to the experience of the Light of Jesus whose redeeming presence changes the way we see one another and the world. And this, dear friends, is an experience worth spreading.

Aram Bae

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Light of the world, I confess that it is an easy habit to live in a land of deep darkness. Bring me out, and guide my steps to walk in the warmth of your light. Redeem me, oh Lord. Encourage me to celebrate you, so that others may be inspired to walk with you, too. Amen.

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Christ my Redeemer, be alive and real in my life.

Christ my Friend, be near and true to your word.

Christ my Light, be honored in what I say and do.

Aram Bae

After ten years in New York City, Rev. Dr. Aram Bae moved to Charlottesville, VA and is the Associate Pastor for Youth & Mission at First Presbyterian Church. Aram continues to teach Christian education courses as an adjunct professor at the New York Theological Seminary, but does so remotely. In addition to her passion for youth ministry, there is nothing she loves more than a (large) plate of fried chicken, barbecue ribs, and collard greens. Cornbread sweetens the pot, too.

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