This week we light the advent candle for “Joy”, and it brings with it a good reminder. Most of us probably don’t use the word “joy” much throughout the year in every day conversation. But in scriptures the word comes from “chairos” (not “kairos”), which is a verb meaning “to be glad, to be well, to thrive, to rejoice”. We might quickly subsume such a thing into the American dream we’re all pursuing, as a noun we all would like to possess. Most of us would respond “Yes”, if someone asked us “Would you like to have joy in your life?”
But that is something it does us good to remember, in each of these advent weeks. Each of these words have their power reduced when they are taken as something to be possessed. Whether Hope, or Peace, or Joy, or Love…these are most powerful not when they’re owned, but when they’re experienced. I’d much rather experience Joy, than keep some in my pocket.
It’s the same with the Christ-child these are all leading up to. We talk to our children about “having Jesus in their hearts”, and it’s good. It’s something a child can understand. But we needn’t stay at that level in our conversations with those who’ve grown intellectually. We understand that Jesus isn’t actually IN our blood-pumping muscles. So we must be honest that it’s not quite about us “possessing Jesus”, or “having Him”, as much as it is us releasing ourselves to be “taken by” Him. Not in a future, rapture-centered experience. But in a right-now, relinquishing all that once was mine to be overtaken by the flood of Kingdom-moving in our world today.
It’s less like me putting a piece of Jesus in my pocket, and more like me stepping into a torrential flood breaking through barriers of what was, proclaiming what is/what will be. It’s less about me answering “yes, right here in my heart” to the question of “Do you have Jesus?”….and more about Jesus answering, “yes, right here in my Kingdom-arriving” to the question of “Do you have Chadwick?”
So how do we talk about these things with our children? Well, I think we at least start, by talking about these things with our children. 🙂 Asking them what thoughts come to mind when they hear the word “Joy”. Asking them what makes them glad. But not only pointing to memories…helping them to experience the joy of Christ. Telling them the stories of how Christ has transformed things, and helping them to savor how the world is changing because of what God has done/is doing.
This Christmas, may we worry less about possessing the gift of Jesus Christ….and wonder how we might become possessed BY such a gifting…