Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice.
Advent is a strange time for Christians. While we patiently wait through the weeks leading up to Christmas, people around us are moving at remarkable speeds to get anything and everything they need for the holiday. I was at Target yesterday and I saw a couple arguing about how many gifts they should be purchasing for their respective in-laws. In the parking lot I witnessed a man struggling to fit his bags of presents into the back of his car. And while I was leaving the shopping center I saw someone blow through a red light and the immediate response of one driver screaming obscenities from her car.
Advent is a strange time for Christians. While we strive for patience, the world rushes on. And while we strive to remember the reason for the season, we get caught up with the anger and impatience the holiday brings with it.
Children, on the other hand, are somehow able to maintain the sense of joy that comes this time of year.
This morning, shortly after the preschoolers arrived, we gathered in the sanctuary to practice for the upcoming Christmas pageant. For weeks the students have worked on memorizing their lines and delivering them clearly into a microphone, their costumes have been altered and cleaned, and they have learned to keep from fidgeting while standing in place.
After we went through the theatrical side of the production, we then reorganized the kids to practice singing six songs about the real meaning of Christmas. Our Preschool director quieting counted “1-2-3” in order to start the song and then they started to belt out the words to “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” It was loud and powerful. They took in as much air as possible to sing with full gusto, they had accompanying hand motions to mirror the words, and every one of them had a huge smile on their face. In fact, they were so loud that our secretary left her office just to make sure that everything was okay in the sanctuary.
Near the end of his letter to the Philippians, Paul commands the disciples of Jesus to “Rejoice in the Lord always, against I will say, Rejoice.” There are plenty of Sundays in worship when it really feels like we are rejoicing in the Lord, but many of them pale in comparison to the joy I heard echoing from our Preschoolers this morning. They believe in rejoicing in the Lord always.
This week, let us strive to rejoice in this season rather than resent it. Let us pray for God to give us patience while we prepare for the holiday. And let us recapture the joy of this time in the same spirit as preschool-age children.