This is a good question to ask ourselves during the great pandemic of 2020. With businesses shuttered, food lines growing, and an insane amount of civil unrest around racism, and populism, we see a lot of reasons NOT to rejoice this Advent season.
But hang on a minute. Are we the people of God or not? Are we disciples of Christ or not? What can we do to shift our focus toward is the idea of rejoicing as God does? The God of Jesus, my God, is telling us how to see Him if you are looking.
God has and is working by establishing justice for those oppressed, food for those who are hungry, spiritual or material freedom for those in prison. The blind are seeing, the broken people are being uplifted, the stranger is finding welcome, those suffering loss of loved ones are sustained, and those who would do wickedness are being stopped.
Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.
God rejoices in doing the work listed above. It is HIS delight to offer these opportunities for freedom. St. Paul tells us that true happiness, true rejoicing, comes from participating in the work God rejoices in doing. Those Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are the things that bring joy to all who extend those blessings or receive them.
Right now, our mission field to do the work of rejoicing is tilled and ready for planting. One of the blessings of living through this pandemic is seeing how much of our "normal" ways were a waste of time or energy.
How can we be assured that God rejoices in such work?
As we read from Isaiah over the Advent season, the Prophet is addressing the Israelites who are awaiting escape from Egypt. One observation I thought was fascinating is how Nature plays a huge role in the Exodus. The plagues are natural disasters. In the escape from Pharoh, a pillar of fire burns, the sea parts, the desert is made traversable. Food appears from the sky; the water pours forth from the rock, and Israel triumphs.
We are lead to think it is Moses who has the "in" with God during this time. But in actuality, it is God rejoicing in what God does. Nature obeys God no matter what. Never in all of the billions of years of creation has there been a time where nature disobeys God, NEVER. Now, these examples in Exodus pull us towards the saving work our Lord God revels in throughout biblical history. Jesus makes it personal in the sermon on the mount and the Judgement from Mathew 25:31-46. We have the keys to the unending source of joy right here in our midst.
So I say rejoice!