Last night I got to hang with one of my dearest friends in the entire world. We actually have not gotten to see each other much this season. She is the Shelter Manager at Jackson Street Youth Shelter and I do my pastorly work. But I had some time last night and thought it might be fun to shop a bit with her…at least to get ideas. So I called Kendra Sue and we agreed to meet at a certain time and go from there. At one point, we were giggling so hard in my car I thought I might have to pull over. The joke wasn’t all that funny but it struck both of us. We actually spent much of our time in stores, wandering around, not really looking at things but talking and catching up and enjoying each other. There was also much laughing at sparkly Jesus kitch and random books and life in general.
After reading the Ruth passage today, I am reminded of two things. First of all, I am reminded of just how important it is to have people you can just “be” with and you know that they will be there. I would do just about anything for this friend (some of you know Kendra Sue Phillips Neal) and I am pretty sure she would too. She is a person in my life that we have traveled together in wilderness with. Naomi and Ruth are that for each other. While we travel this season together, its essential to have those people with us…traveling along and won’t leave our side.
Secondly, I am reminded that in addition to darkness this season has moments of pure joy. Kendra and I, when we get together, have way to much fun sometimes. There are friends in my life that make me giggle in pure joy. I have been told, with at least one of them, that her husband always knows when she is talking to me because of how we laugh with each other on the phone. Now there are times when we cry too but the times we laugh are pure gold.
Joy comes in so many forms. In one congregation that I served, (ends in orvallis), there was a little boy that literally shook with joy and excitement. I think he has grown out of it a bit but his smile is full of joy. His little body just could not hold it in.
There are outbursts of joy all around us. When my brothers and I get together, there is so much joy! When my mom gets added into the mix, watch out (there may be spontaneous dance offs) and when my dad joins in, we are unstoppable on the joy scale.
When little ones get excited about Christmas…
When the world looks new for just a moment…
When we can’t help ourselves but giggle…
Now, some of you aren’t there. Perhaps the Psalm speaks more directly to you as you call out for a rock, a redeemer. And perhaps joy isn’t for you this morning…just can’t quite get there. That’s ok. Sometimes the holidays are not joyful for you. And when you need joy, I hope you can recall moments that have struck you. In that case, relax, read, and just be for God can meet you there too.