GREAT Morning Beloved!!!
Welcome to our 4th Sunday of Advent – Joy
Christmas is right around the corner, are you excited? Yes, adults can get excited too, not just the kids! And the excitement can come from all the happenings as well as the reminder of who and what we are.
You can feel a progressive theme here, can you not? We started with HOPE or FAITH, which led into a feeling of PEACE, which is logically followed with overwhelming LOVE…at least that’s how I see it. Maybe you see or feel it differently.
Our faith fills us with hope. That gets us through our days, our trials, our ‘growth opportunities.’
The peace that follows that faith, that hope is the peace that goes beyond understanding. People may look at us and wonder how we get by? What are we doing that we can face whatever growth opportunity we are facing and still move on?
We find peace in that hope. Hope that the God of our understanding is there, within us, guiding us through. And in that faith, that peace, lies LOVE. We have connected with our inner Christ, that guiding light that we all possess but forget that we have.
But when we connect, that opens our hearts to LOVE, plain and simple…but not so plain, because it is overwhelming at times, that love fills us to over-flowing. It takes us through each day, always there to fall back on, if we should ever lose track or forget…because, that is something we humans tend to do.
So, this week, JOY. I believe joy is a feeling from within.
I separate joy and happiness from the source that they arrive. To me, happiness is an outside feeling. It relies on something outside of us to bring that feeling of happiness. It could be another person, a pet, nature, music, a show…
Most of us want more joy and happiness and, in our humanness, we are often deluded into looking for it from things outside of us.
Sometimes these outside happenings remind us to check in with our inner Christ, that place where we are connected with Divine Source, and that bubbles forth with joy.
The feeling of joy is much deeper, much fuller than happiness. And happiness can leave us, just as someone walks out the door.
Happiness can fade, but joy does not. Joy comes from a deeper, more profound place of connection with the Divine in all its expressions.
“Joy comes from our inner awareness of divine love’s presence and connection to God and each other. Joy embodies great-fullness,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, the Benedictine monk who has made a life study of gratitude.
Joy is always with us, and we can experience it at any time if we allow it. We must be willing to let it flow…there’s that word again, willingness.
Even though the dictionary defines joy as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires, or to experience great pleasure or delight, I still retain the definition I mentioned earlier, it’s an inside job.
The spiritual quality of joy is simply part of our nature as expressions of Spirit, as children of God. It’s in us, now and always. It’s not dependent on the circumstances of our lives.
According to Unity principle, we can experience and express the joy of God even in the most difficult times of our lives. How do you think that is possible?
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Coming home to God is our deepest joy. When we open our hearts, minds, and eyes to see God everywhere and in all creation, we find joy.
Reminds me of the joy felt when we find our place, whether it’s here in Unity or with your “tribe”, where you spend your time.
In ‘The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World’ by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama explains how to cultivate joy.
“Joy is the reward, really, of seeking to give joy to others. When you show compassion when you show caring, when you show love to others, do things for others, in a wonderful way you have a deep joy that you can get in no other way. You can’t buy it with money. You can be the richest person on Earth, but if you care only about yourself, I can bet my bottom dollar you will not be happy and joyful. But when you are caring, compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of others than about your own, wonderfully, wonderfully, you suddenly feel a warm glow in your heart, because you have, in fact, wiped the tears from the eyes of another.”
Joy can be a connection with other people, with nature, and with other beings. It is the wonder, the delight, the welling up of loving energy—so that we feel our connection to God in all its forms—that brings forth the light of the soul as joy. It can be the joy of the first snowfall, the first signs of spring, the birth of a child, the stars at night. It is seeing the miracle of life and celebrating it.
The key word here is CONNECTION….the connection we experience wen we connect with these things.
So, now can you recall when you have felt joy…can you separate it from happiness?
What was it like? Do you want more of that feeling?
I thought so!
So, here are some ways to help with your joy, some ideas to help you connect, because you have joy, we just block it at times.
First, focus on qualities of God and emulate them.
God is love, be loving; (how can you do that?)
God is wisdom, be wise; (how can you do that?)
God is mercy, be merciful and forgiving. (how can you do that?)
Next, always monitor troubling thoughts and feelings and ask whether these things are really true. Forgive yourself for thinking those thoughts. (how can you do that?)
Keep a gratitude journal. This is easy, but of course, you must put the journal into use too.
Mindfully walk in nature. Don’t just walk mindlessly, but listen to the sounds, really SEE what is around you. Take it all in.
Pray and meditate on one aspect of creation. Why is this important? Creation is something you do, all the time. Be conscious of those thoughts and feelings that you are putting out into the Universe, they are creative. Maybe read the Creation stories and truly ponder them.
Be generous with time, talent, and treasure. We remind ourselves of this all the time. It is important to share our gifts. That is what this years Unity Theme is all about. So, how are you doing with this? You know what your gifts are. Time, talent & treasure…if you are a member of Unity Spiritual Center, one of your membership promises is that you share these. How are you doing?
Remember, joy is your connection with the Divine and all creation, and it is eternal. We cannot be separate from God in all its manifestations. Anything that heightens our awareness of the One will stir up the joy that is our divine nature.
Rev. Michael Gott; “In the season of Christmas, we are given the opportunity to birth the light of Christ into our lives anew. Can we find the courage to imagine living in joy—a joy that is so rich, so deep, so robust, that it carries us and sustains us through every struggle and challenge we face?”