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The Advent Series-Day Twenty-one

Day 21: Joy to the World

Psalm 47:1 “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”

A sheep by a manger with a baby.

Copyright All images & writing © 2018 Charis Seed Photography All rights reserved

It’s 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday. I’m wearing a Christmas sweater my mom picked out for church. It’s itchy a little bit around the collar, but a pleasant kind of itchy. Pleasant because that itch is a reminding me, “It’s almost Christmas!” Everything is reminding me that it’s almost Christmas. If it was a school day I’d be sore eyes and pouting, but it’s December, and as a child I’m practicing waking up early in anticipation of Christmas morning.

My belly is stuffed with home fries and scrambled eggs. And candy. We’re at the church advent sunrise breakfast and somehow I’ve secured a piece of candy before eight in the morning. The light’s are down low. It’s a sunrise breakfast that ironically is taking place in a church basement that has small windows, none of which face rising sun. So, we make our own light. Each table has some candles that provide a soft grow to the room. The ambience of this magical light is diminished by the blazing glow of the overhead projector. But the magic lost to that garish machine that presents carol lyrics, is returned to me in full by an alchemist of Christmas spirit named Floyd. Floyd is old and, not fat, but round. Floyd would make a good Santa Clause.

But Floyd is going to make holiday cheer at this breakfast in his own way.

By playing the accordion.

He wiggles his fingers over the buttons like a sorcerer casting a spell. And Floyd is casting a spell. He pushes forward and sways back in time to the slow respirations of his instrument. He skillfully inflates the words of each chorus until they are near bursting. His notes may be less than accurate, but his gusto more than compensates because he sings with his full heart.

When Floyd sings everyone sings. The compulsion to join is beyond resisting. Toddlers hum. Mothers smile. Kids clap along. Even that cranky usher that yells at me every week for running in the hall is actually singing. Not smiling, but singing and that’s good enough. Floyd has a smile in his eyes as he forms his lips round and wide as a trumpet. “JOOOOOOOOOOOY” He sings the word like a cannonball… “to the world!” There’s a sturdiness and a bit of mischief to the carol. A cheerful defiance. A victory dance.

“Let men their songs employ…” As a child it is my birthright to sing the word “Joy” a the top of my lungs.

“Repeat the sounding joy…” I look at my friend and we giggle as we try to sing the phrase in the lowest octave we can make.

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,” I’m six, my sins are stealing a matchbox car and my sorrows mostly have to do with the dentist.

“He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found…” I’ve seen some Disney movies with castles covered in thorns and a brave knight that must defeat the dragon to break the curse. I can see Jesus in His armor fighting dragons. As a child this image works for me. Floyd sings like a galloping horse, “far as the curse is found.”

It’s the fourth verse, those of lesser stamina are tapping out. But there is enough candy-filled kids in the room to assist Floyd in shaking the drop ceiling with his song. “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness.” This is the era of G.I. Joe for me so I see Jesus as some sort of army commander capturing all the bad guys. “And wonders of His Love.”

“Wonders of His Love.” And somehow in that musty, candle-lit basement I know the wonder of God’s love. I can feel God’s love and it is big and strong. I understand with my simple childhood faith that Jesus came to fight dragons and break curses. That brings me joy.

And that still brings me joy. Trumpet-sounding, accordion-playing, curse-breaking, hope-bringing, top-of-my-lungs Joy!

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Copyright All images & writing © 2018 Charis Seed Photography

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