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Musings from Mountains and Valleys-Advent 3

Joy is the serious business of heaven.

C. S. Lewis

As I am writing, I am trying to wrap my head around the news that I received tonight that my daughter-in-law’s brother has died. A young man I have known and cared about for over 20 years, since he was a boy. People I love are facing an unspeakable grief tonight.

And this coming Sunday’s message is about joy, where Mary rejoices that God is bringing about a new order through the promise she is carrying within her body. A child she will give birth to in a manger while angels sing for joy and a star shines; a son she will watch die while darkness covers the sky and heaven weeps. “A time to be born, a time to die…a time to laugh, a time to weep.”

A quote that is often attributed to Keats is that “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” I think being a Christian is being sustained by the abiding joy of the Lord even through periods of tragedy, sadness, and grief.

Joy is not the same as happiness. There is nothing chemical or hormonal about joy. It is a pregnant virgin calling for justice to roll down upon the earth. It is the serious business of heaven breaking forth into the shadows of hell in this world and in people’s lives. Joy is the hope that sings about resurrection as we bury our dead and the peace that holds are hearts while they are breaking.

“Ave Maria, gratia plena

Dominus tecum

benedicta tu in mulieri¬bus,

et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Sancta Maria mater Dei,

ora pro nobis peccatoribus,

nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.



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