From Jim Harnish, retired pastor of Hyde Park United Methodist in Tampa.
The Christmas tree business is booming! It’s evidently one way people are finding joy in this strange, COVID-infected season. The New York Times reported:
This year, with parties and vacations largely cancelled, one source of holiday cheer remains in tact: Christmas trees. Americans are buying the trees in droves and the farms that produce them are struggling to keep up.
So, what’s your “source of holiday cheer”?
Last Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, is traditionally called Gaudate, Latin for joy. In the Old Testament reading for the day, Isaiah promises the One who will come:
to comfort all who mourn, to give them a crown in place of ashes, oil of joy in place of mourning, a mantle of praise in place of discouragement… …everlasting joy will be theirs… I surely rejoice in the Lord; my heart is joyful because of my God. (Isaiah 61:1-10)
So, here’s the question — and it’s a big one! — where do we find joy when so many of the Christmas practices and traditions in which we’ve found joy in the past have been taken from us? You can make your own list of the joy-bringers that COVID-19 has stolen from you this season. With all we’ve lost, where will joy be found?
Here’s my prescription:
- Turn off the 24-hour cable news networks for awhile.
- Turn on the Christmas carols. (Christmas at Downton Abby is not a bad place to start!)
- Celebrate simple things by sharing joyful memories.
- Spend time with the Christmas gospels. (Luke 1-2, Matthew 1-2)
- Since you aren’t going anywhere anyway, sit down and read a book that is really worth reading.