Joy to the World

Happy new year!  I’ve been saying that to whomever I encounter (and frankly, getting some odd looks since it is the 6th of January, after all.) I’m holding out a lot of hope that 2015 will be a much different year than it’s predecessor.

I’ve mentioned before that, instead of resolutions, friends and I choose a word that is designed to help us focus in the year ahead on things we’d like to change or improve in our lives. As we came to the fourth year of doing this together, I struggled a bit – not for lack of ideas but for too many swirling around.  Could it be “brave”?  Should it be “strength”? Perhaps “peace”?

As Christmas approached and I looked toward spending The Day by myself, a friend suggested I buy a few little things for myself so I would have something to unwrap that morning. I thought it a bit weird but who am I to turn away a gift (especially of my choosing!)  I bought a couple things I needed but really wanted something special;  something I would not ordinarily buy for myself…jewelry!

A few months ago, after completing a particularly trying assignment at work, I had splurged and purchased a charm bracelet for myself.  My first three charms spoke to all that I’ve been dealing with over the past two years:  faith, hope, and freedom.   And so I decided that, for Christmas, I’d buy myself a charm and wrap it up.

I scoured the website to see just what would be perfect and chose three to look at:  courage, strength, and joy.  I was drawn to each for different reasons but I knew as soon as I looked at them that my gift to myself must be joy.  The others were beautiful and meaningful but the sparkle and glint of joy summed up for me not only the true spirit of the holiday season, but also something I’ve deeply desired more of in my life.

I left the jewelry store with a gift wrapped box to place under my tree, smiling all the way.  While I started to think more about joy and about my word for the year, I still was unsure – until Christmas Eve.  I spent the afternoon with friends and then we all headed over to church.  My heart was full as I stood with my friends and sang carols on the steps of the old, beautiful church where the service was to be held.  Upon entering in, I was surprised to find that we would be beginning our time by lighting candles and singing Silent Night;  it had been my experience that the song, and the candles, were traditionally a way to close Christmas Eve service.  Yet the sermon that evening was all about joy and shining light in dark places, which spoke so strongly not only to the intense brokeheartedness our community had faced throughout the fall and even into the days leading up to Christmas…but also to that in my heart as well.  We held our candles throughout, ending the evening with one of my very favorite holiday songs:  Joy to the World.  And I smiled, knowing that my word had found me this year, instead of the other way around.

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