Walking Our Faith: A light in the darkness and joy when we need it most (column)
December 10, 2016
Although it was only 6:45 p.m., it felt much later. The snowstorm and plummeting temperatures had sent everyone inside. French Street was snow packed and empty as we crossed. Except for the lighted entrance ahead.
I felt a giddy sense of relief as I entered the warmly lighted sanctuary of St. Mary's and saw that the church was nearly full for the Wednesday evening Vigil Mass for the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Earlier in the day, I'd had the following phone conversation with Mom, who is my first reader.
Me: "I want to write about joy this week, but I'm not feeling very joyful."
Mom: "Take the afternoon off, pour yourself a glass of wine, read, pray, it will come."
Since it was only noon, I made myself a pot of herbal tea, but otherwise followed Mom's advice. And at 7 p.m. I joined my friend Dana and her family at Mass, still with no idea of how I would write this week's column.
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After receiving Communion, I knelt in my pew and asked God how I could write about joy when I wasn't feeling joyful. He replied, "When do you feel joyful?"
That's when the light came in. I realized the feeling I experienced as I entered the church was joy. And the feeling I experienced every time I received Communion was joy.
This church and this sacrament of Communion that I shared at least once a week was my source of joy.
On Facebook, this morning I saw a clever video that formed a Christmas tree from the many names of God. One of those names was Light of the World.
And that is exactly what I experienced last night as I crossed French Street and saw the welcoming lighted entrance of St. Mary's.
Jesus' birth on a lonely night in the humblest of circumstances was the crack in history that let the light of love and joy and salvation come flooding into an otherwise dark and lost world.
He was the light that sparked the stars that guided three wise men to kneel and worship by his side.
Jesus' arrival was the fulfillment of the psalm that promises, "weeping may last for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
Life is unpredictable. When I looked for sources of joy earlier in the day, it was based on a scale of emotional and material things.
What I realized at the Vigil Mass on Wednesday night is my surest sense of joy will always come from God, from his church, and always from Communion, that forever enduring sacrament of his love for us.
What I experienced in that moment after Communion, is something I believe I will remember for the rest of my life. When we seek joy from relationships or things, our experience of joy will be pleasing but fleeting. That's simply life.
But when we open our hearts to God, we understand that he is our reliable and permanent source of joy. He will always be there for us. Always available, always limitless in love and understanding.
God, through his son Jesus, is the Light of the World and our joy.
Advent Gospel Reading for Week Three
Matthew 11:2-11 New International Version (NIV)
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?"
4 Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me."
7 As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
"'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'[b]
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Dec. 11, 4 p.m. — A Christmas Musical Celebration at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, Dillon
Dec. 16, 7 p.m. — High Country Holidays Concert will be at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center. Summit Choral Society will be performing with the Summit Concert Band and Summit Community Orchestra.
Dec. 23, 7 p.m. — Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, 89 Smith Ranch Road north of Silverthorne, for their service or readings and carols. St. Dunstan's Anglican Church and Our Lady of Peace invite all members of the community to join this joint service.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of "God Loves You, Chester Blue" and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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