“I’ve got joy like a fountain in my heart.” You may recognize that as a line from an old Sunday School tune. I remember singing it boldly along with the other verses which included “peace like a river” and “love like an ocean.” All are good descriptors, but “joy like a fountain” is my favorite. When joy happens, it bubbles up and out like water from a wellspring.
I recently had a conversation with a grieving friend. Though she often feels sad, she is looking forward to what she calls her “new reality.” Planning for a new residence, starting a small business, and being with family are all sources of joy. Sometimes she feels guilty for being happy. Other times she worries that people will judge her for being happy at a time when she should, in their view, be sorrowful. Fortunately, joy bubbles up pushing all that aside, making room for brighter tomorrows. I am lucky to be standing in the spray.
Peace is a ribbon that circles the earth, giving a promise of safety and worth.
– from “When God Is a Child” by Brian Wren
Though she was afraid and a little doubtful at first, Mary quickly embraced her role in what we now call the Christmas story. Once it was all explained, her simple reply was, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38)
The author of Luke goes on to tell us that Mary sang praises to God, recognizing that He blesses those who are humble, those who have little, and those who serve Him. Perhaps this example is just one more gift delivered to us through Mary.
Generations have called her blessed, and in turn, we have been blessed for generations. Glory!
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3:15
We live in an “unpeaceful” time. From politics to pipelines to “taking a knee,” battles rage around us. Historically, there have been greater conflicts, but even an argument over the color of a coffee cup seems like a big deal when you’re in the midst of it.
A little girl in my community saw video on social media of someone stealing money from a tip jar at a local donut shop. She took her “tooth fairy” money to the donut shop and slipped it into the tip jar with a note saying she was sorry about what happened. Though the conflict was not her own, she saw a need and stepped in to help. That’s a pretty big move for such a little girl.
As this week of peace begins, I hope each of us will think about the ways we approach conflict and the ways we interact with those who don’t agree with us. Maybe we can begin to speak in favor of ideals and values rather than against individuals. Maybe we can stand up and help, peacefully, even when the conflict doesn’t directly affect us. The example was set for us thousands of years ago by one who was called the Prince of Peace and again this week by a little girl in a donut shop. It’s kind of a big deal.
I pray that this week will bring peace to our hearts so we may begin to influence peace in the world around us. Be sure to stop by and share your stories of peace this week.
Come surely, Lord Jesus, as dawn follows night,
Our hearts long to greet you, as roses the light.
Salvation draw near us, our vision engage.
One candle is lit for the hope of the age.
-from “One Candle Is Lit” by Mary Anne Parrott
I was going through some old papers today when I found a note a friend had sent me during her battle with cancer. It read, in part, “Ida Beth, I have hope because of you!” She went on to write of her faith in God and her determination to beat cancer. I honestly don’t know what it was about me that inspired hope in her at that time, but I can tell you for sure that she has given me a new definition for the word hope. Six months or so have passed, and my friend is feeling well, looking great, and defying all odds.
I hope you have found inspiration for hope this week. If so, please share your story in the comments and spread the hope!
Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself at the beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up, and it will, too.
–From Hope Floats
This is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies. Do you have favorite movie lines that reflect this week’s theme of hope? Maybe you have a favorite song lyric that inspires hope. If so, please share in the comments below.
“Hope is a star that shines in the night, leading us on till the morning light.” -from “When God Is a Child” by Brian Wren
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
Before the journey to Bethlehem, before the lack of adequate lodging, before the manger or the shepherds or the wise men, there was an angel speaking to a young woman. This is where our Advent story really begins. This is where the wonder and the mystery and the waiting all start. I began my Advent observance by placing an angel in the manger scene.
It was the angel, Gabriel, who delivered the good news to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), but angels appear throughout the Christmas story. When we think of the angel in the manger scene, we most often consider the one who appeared to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20). An angel spoke to Joseph as well (Matthew 1:18-24).
If you read about each of these angelic encounters, you will notice a theme. Each time the angels speak, they say, “Do not be afraid.” In each case, there are plenty of reasons to be fearful. It is difficult to imagine how we might react to finding ourselves in any of these situations. But each time, there is someone there to offer reassurance. “Do not be afraid.”
That same reassurance is offered to us today, and we, in turn, can offer it to others. That’s really what HOPE is all about, right?