This Week at Trinity, Beamsville
Friday, December 10, 2021
This week I went in search of something I thought might be simple to find. That happened in a couple of different scenarios but the one I’m thinking of most right now was my search for an image of Christmas joy. I’m sure you’ve noticed that each week, each Sunday, we try to include something visual, to emphasize or even suggest questions about the theme, the core message of the day. Usually that’s an easy task, and fun. Would you believe that wasn’t the case, in search of a visual for joy?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In broader culture, joy is close to overused. It pops up in all kinds of contexts, and along the way has become interchanged, all too often, with happiness. It’s a risky, almost dangerous practice, that can leave us wondering how to hold on to, or experience consistently, something that’s become so nebulous; so attached to a smile on one’s face. It follows then, that the notion of introducing Joy (capital intentional) in the season of Advent might feel fraught with pressure. Does the introduction of Joy, of waiting with Joy or for Joy, bring with it the expectation to feel light and breezy – especially in a season that carries such complex emotions?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is bound up in an expression quite new to me (thank you Padraig O Tuama), and now on my list of favourites. It’s a description of life with its “strange adjacencies”; strange and seemingly contradictory pieces of our being that learn to live side by side. Joy is a living depiction of just that. It is that complex space where God’s grace offers invitation and encourages self-permission to have sadness and joy in co-existence. One does not preclude the other.
So for all the countless, stock images online (including an astounding number from Hallmark seasonal movies!), most of which seem to rest on shiny baubles and photo-shopped perfection, I’ve opted for an image I first thought too grainy. Taken on a wet and snowy night, in my amateur hands on a humble phone camera, it’s a capture of JOY, as offered on the church front lawn. There, for all to see and we trust absorb, is a glimpse of holy light. The picture isn’t perfect. Neither is life. Thank God for the presence and promise of gifts still to come: precious, life-changing gifts that arrive in unexpected ways, right when we need them most.
With Advent love to you all,
“Before chasing the mirage of perfection crept into our lives…there was imperfect.
Gorgeously uncertain and incredibly simple; imperfect.”
(“Gracefully Woven” by Elizabeth Spenner, “Gracefully Woven”)