Wow! Christmas Eve already! Somehow, this doesn't feel right. It feels like it should still be November or something. But, y'know, I'm sort of glad that 2020 is almost over. It was a rough year for a lot of people. I've been lucky to escape with only a few missed social engagements.
Our church has been doing an Advent devotional on our app. (Yes, it's sort of a big and high-tech church. We have our own app.) Hope, peace, and joy were the central focuses of the first three weeks, and this week, I suppose we're talking about Christ Himself. And the Sunday sermons discussed each week's theme, too.
This is where things get--humorous? One of the main pastors at our church is a very serious individual. He got a degree in political science before he realized he was called to the ministry, and he told us once that he only got a single B in his entire college career. He also said that, to this day, he considers going back and re-taking that class so he can have a perfect GPA, if that explains anything about this individual. Anyway, he was tasked with talking about joy.
I attended the 9:00 service, and as I arrived at 8:55, I wondered how on earth this pastor was going to talk about joy. I wasn't sure that he'd ever experienced it. Hearing this sermon was sure to be like listening to Lukas McCamden talk about sex and romance. A purely philosophical discussion with lots of big words and no emotion except for wholehearted devotion to Christ.
The sermon was about patience. And it was a surprisingly good sermon, too.
But it got me thinking. Maybe, with everything this year has been, we're not supposed to talk about joy. Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. After all, so many people have lost their jobs, homes, businesses, or loved ones over the past nine months. Maybe the people on the radio singing "Go Tell It On the Mountain" are the only ones who are supposed to be smiling right now.
I learned a very important lesson about joy when my grandmother died. She was gone, and perhaps I missed her a bit (we weren't close), but I still felt joy. In fact, I was glad for her. On earth, she'd been very ill with COPD and a failing memory. Now, she was in heaven. Healthy and whole.
Maybe that level of joy isn't possible for everyone to experience, and there certainly is a time for grief. But even if we've lost something or someone this year, we don't have to let our circumstances (or someone else's circumstances) dictate how we're supposed to feel. Besides, as Ma Ingalls always said, "There's no great loss without some small gain." When I was little, my dad went through a patch without much work. I didn't realize we were poor. I was just happy that Daddy was home and able to spend more time with me.
And if you, like me, have been lucky--don't feel pressured to feel sad or solemn just because so many other people are. When things get better (which, rest assured, they will), it would be a very sad thing if all of humanity had forgotten what joy is.
That said, I've crocheted an afghan for my mother, and I need to find a gift bag big enough for it. And I need to wrap presents for both my friends. And practice my timpan...I uploaded a video on our Facebook page, if you're interested in learning more about it. Or hearing its dulcet tones. I'm quite proud of the way it's turned out.
Anyway, merry Christmas, y'all! Have a blessed day!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.