Saturday, January 6, 2018

Joy and wonder

Happy Epiphany!

In the Baptism liturgy for my denomination, there is a prayer I just love for the baptismal candidate:

Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
My favorite part is when we pray for "the gift of joy and wonder in all your works." I imagine the wise men experienced that joy and wonder when they had their epiphany - the tiny baby Jesus, bringer of joy and wonder to the world!


Leafy Sea Dragon
I am also reminded of construction worker, Angel's, answer when a team member asked how he knows there is a God.  "The sun comes up!" God's creation is filled with constant joy and wonder, if we pay attention.  We open our eyes to see a myriad of beautiful flowers, the ever changing sky, the magnificence of the stars and galaxies, wacky fish in the ocean, the majestic mountain ranges, and on and on. 

I have thought a lot about our two newest lambs, Daniel and Isaac, abandoned at birth.  They have no idea what their lives could have been.  Thanks be to God, instead their lives are filled with joy and wonder.  All they know is love.  These tiny babies are also are bringers of joy to all who encounter them.  Can you see this picture without breaking into a smile? 

Every once in a while Suzy will give me some advice:  "Don't let [situation/person] steal your joy.  Her message is that joy isn't the same as happiness.  Happiness is fleeting, situational, tied to a moment in time. Joy is bigger, broader than that.  It is more a state of being, a gift from God that we choose to accept...or not.  Jesus doesn't promise happiness all the time, instead He promises to remain at our side through good times and bad.  More important, He invites us to follow Him into a life of love, joy and wonder...eternally.

Some people choose to live a life filled with joy and wonder in spite of circumstance.  I recently met and wrote about Doña Santos.  (Gracias Papa) She lives as hard a life as just about anyone.  She and her family survive by digging through the dumpster along the side of the road.  It is generous to call where they live a "hut."  It is really scraps of wood crudely nailed together against the side of a cliff.  No electricity, no water, plenty of gaps for wind and rain to flow through.  And yet, Doña Santos and her family choose to live lives of gratitude and joy.  For her, like us, the holidays are a time to celebrate, to decorate, and to bring the joy of Christmas into our homes.  

Despite the hardships of her life, her home is transformed into a place of beauty and celebration to share with all who pass by.  She chooses joy and brings joy who pay attention.

As Brother Jim Woodrum writes:  
What you’re searching for, you already know. God has blessed us with this amazing life, with eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to discern, and a heart in which to perceive the living presence of God in our midst.
My prayer for you this Epiphany and this year is that God will give you an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love Him, and the gift of joy and wonder in all His works. Amen.