It's a bit ironic (again) that a week filled with so much "stuff" is one marked for the rose-colored candle of Joy. Yet, we still did end the week on a joyful note. This marked our annual trip to work at the Operation Christmas Child distribution center doing the final packaging of shoe boxes as they head out around the glob to the arms of waiting children. The boxes we packed will be off to the Ukraine. We send them with the anticipation they will be received with joy.
Our Hope leads to Peace which brings Joy - all of it in anticipation of this celebration of Advent. Yet, in my family and many others, the shadows of death and sickness seem to loom large. While none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, some close to us do seem to be slipping almost daily. The thin strand of what passes for life in this world stretches more for some than others, and if we don't look to something greater than ourselves, we may find despair swoops in and takes over.
But Joy doesn't have to be elusive or "for somebody else". Joy can be found in the simplest of what life offers and, when you truly find Life in the fullest sense, Joy will well up the same way Hope and Peace do. It's just a matter of knowing where to look and finding the One you can trust completely. So as this third candle is lit, we remember prophets of old who looked forward with great anticipation even in the midst of difficulty and found, at the center of it all, a deep sense of Joy.
The Crooked Path always winds by the stable this time of year. And, if we let our spirits focus there, we will find a Joy that surpasses everything else and shines brightly in our hearts, reflecting out into a dark world desperately in need of Someone.