John 7.37-38
Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

Reflection: We Need a Little Christmas :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

The musical, Mame, is a classic of American theater and film. The show’s most enduring mark on our culture is probably the song “We Need a Little Christmas.”

In the show, Mame has the notion to put up the Christmas decorations early in order to lift everyone’s mood. In the original broadway cast recording her nephew can be heard objecting, “But Auntie Mame, it’s one week past Thanksgiving Day now!”

That’s right. Putting up the Christmas decorations one week past Thanksgiving was once something only an exaggerated, eccentric, bon-vivant, party girl, like crazy Auntie Mame would think of. How times have changed.

In 2018, the media has been incessantly telling us that “scientists” say putting up decorations early makes us happier and more content. All this journalistic (and consumeristic) gold has been spun out of one study that found that people were seen as more sociable if they decorated for Christmas early, and one psychologist’s statement that early decorating brought feelings of “happiness.”

As we begin this week of Advent that focuses on joy, it is helpful to distinguish joy from the happiness, whether scientifically verified or not, that is derived from putting up decor.

There’s nothing wrong with a temporary mood-booster, as long as you tell the truth about what it is—temporary and emotional. Go ahead. Decorate in October if you just can’t stand not to. Mame would be proud.

But the joy of Christ is no mood-booster—it is a life changer. And it is always accessible to us no matter what season of life we are in or what decorations are hanging on our walls.

We do need a little Christmas joy.
Joy is not dependant on a season of peace and goodwill.
Joy thrives under persecution and suffering.

Joy does not rely on tinsel, lights, and delightful surroundings.
Joy shines brightest when surrounded by hopelessness and fear.

Joy does not require us to dress the part, or deck the halls, or trim the tree.
Joy comes to criminals naked on a cross, hung like gruesome decorations on a tree of suffering.

Jesus brought joy to us not by avoiding suffering, but by seeing past it and willingly walking through it for us. We will find joy when we follow him.

What are we waiting for?
When we walk with Christ, there is joy before suffering, joy in the midst of it, and joy on the other side of it.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
On this day the Lord has acted, we will rejoice and be glad in it  — Psalm 118:24

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Zechariah 4 (Listen – 1:53)
John 7 (Listen – 5:53)

Additional Reading
Read More about Finding Joy :: Readers’ Choice
If you get hung up on pleasure you’re doomed. If you pursue joy, you’ll find everlasting happiness. — George Lucas.

Read More about Love in His Name :: Love of Advent
In that Name there is hope and joy and rest
In his Name we are blest.

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