Following the Star
Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. But waiting doesn’t have to be boring, and preparation doesn’t have to be a chore.
Both can be filled with joy. And so we wait, with the joy of looking back and remembering God’s good works in the world and in our lives. And we prepare, bubbling with the delight-filled anticipation of setting up the party for an honored guest.
In hope, in trust, in thanksgiving, in joy let us lay our hearts before God.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
I call my nephew “Smiles for Miles.” He’s six months old, with the perfect pudgy belly and a face that beams contentment for 97% of his waking moments. Every night, fresh from his bath and smelling like baby shampoo, he’ll lie on his changing table in nothing but a diaper and his killer grin, and my sister will tickle his tummy and under his arms. And for minutes on end, Miles will laugh – lip-quivering, whole-body-vibrating laughter, a laugh you could bottle and sell as a sunshine substitute on your darkest day.
This, to me, is what “rejoicing in your whole being” looks like – like not knowing anything more than the safety and bliss of that moment and being taken over by it, from your grin (toothy or toothless) to your wiggly-toes. When is the last time you allowed yourself to be claimed by joy? When is the last time that you remembered the great gifts of God – rich like regal robes and rejuvenating as springtime – and said “thank you” with your whole jubilant being?
Dear God, give me the courage to turn all of myself over in gratitude to you. Set aside my self-consciousness, that every bit of me might rejoice in your wonders and miracles, in all the ways you provide for me, in all the ways you keep your promises. From the tips of my toes to the top of my head, for this one moment, may I be completely and utterly yours, saying, “Thank you.” Amen.
“Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all. Amen, and come Lord Jesus.”