Parents: have you noticed the change in children’s programming lately? Every show my 3-year-old watches is like a mini-musical, with the characters bursting into song every few minutes. I have my own cynical theories about the reasons behind this (selling soundtrack CDs, perhaps?), but the end result is clear:
Our home life is a ridiculous mini-musical.
We sing as we make pancakes:
“Mix and stir, mix and stir.
Careful! Careful! Mix and stir.”
Or as we brush our teeth:
“Brush brush brush, brush brush brush,
gonna get our teeth so nice and clean.”
(Admittedly, my lyrical skills leave something to be desired.)
But here is my favorite song. It’s short and sweet, and Eleanor sings it when she and I finish some task together:
“We are the best teammates… EVER!!!”
Maybe today’s cartoons aren’t so far off. Sometimes things are so good we just have to burst into song.
Mary did that in the Scripture for today.
Luke writes about how the angel visits Mary and tells her that she will bear God’s Son. But wait for it – Mary doesn’t sing just yet. Maybe she is too concerned with how to tell her fiance this “Good News.” Before long she visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who praises Mary for what God is doing in her. Here Mary finds at least one person who believes her, at least one person who knows that her pregnancy is not something to condemn but to celebrate. That praise seems to open the floodgates; Mary can no longer contain her joy. She sings it out:
“My soul magnifies the Lord…
for the Mighty One has done great things for me…” (Luke 1:47, 49).
Her “Magnificat” (named for the first word of this song in Latin) is an expression of pure joy.
Appropriate, since on this third Sunday in Advent we remember Christ, our joy.
The joy Christ brings is mysterious and wonderful in many ways. Here is just one:
It is as ever-present as our God.
Consider, for example, that the Gospel of Luke almost literally begins and ends with joy. There is joy at Christ’s conception (John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in utero at the sound of Mary’s voice in 1:44). There is joy after Jesus’ ascension to heaven (the disciples return to Jerusalem “with great joy” in 24:52). From start to finish: Joy.
This holiday season, do you have joy? Or do you need some?
If you have some, sing it out. Or at least, put it into words. There may be someone who needs to hear about it. Just by talking about what Christ has done for you, you might coax joy out of someone else like Elizabeth encouraging her cousin, Mary.
If you need some, remember that Christ’s joy is still there. Listen for it. It may take a while to regain that joy, but I believe that it is there, always.
From beginning to end,
Christ is our Joy.