"Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens."
This Sunday, we will light the Advent candle of joy. It was a decade ago that I received one of my greatest lessons in the kind of joy referenced in the quote above...a joy that is not dependent on immediate circumstances. It was 2006 when I made my first trip to the country of Angola. Five other persons representing the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church joined me on a trip that would help establish a partnership with the United Methodist Church of East Angola.
It was only four years earlier that a brutal civil war, lasting nearly three decades, had come to an end in that country. Signs of devastation were all around. The capital city was terribly overcrowded, the result of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing villages for safety. Many of the country's roadways were still impassable. Other parts of the nation's infrastructure were likewise decimated. And there was a noticeable absence of young men in their twenties and thirties, the primary casualties from so many years of fighting.
Yet, from the moment church members greeted us shortly after our arrival, the defining characteristic we encountered among them was joy. There were indeed deep springs from which their lives gave witness to the source that sustained them and in whom they placed their trust. Nowhere was this more evident than in our times of worship together. The preaching was bold. The praying was earnest. The fellowship was sweet. And the singing...oh my, the singing!
Advent is a season for great expectations. I hope you'll show up this Sunday expecting God to do something new in your life. Maybe you'll even walk out a little more joyful, no matter what your circumstances are.
On the journey,