December 19, 2022: Joy Unbridled

Reading: Isaiah 62:6-12

Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
You who remind the LORD,
take no rest,
and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it renowned throughout the earth.
The LORD has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine
for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the LORD,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in my holy courts.
Go through, go through the gates,
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
clear it of stones,
lift up an ensign over the peoples.
The LORD has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
“See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
They shall be called, “The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD”;
and you shall be called, “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.”



Today, I took my dog Kaia on a walk for the first time in a week and a half. After 10 days of my being largely confined to the indoors, thanks to COVID, both of us needed to resume a bit of our normal routine. Kaia was delighted at the prospect of rediscovering all her favorite sights and sounds and smells. Her excitement could barely be contained, as evidenced by the fact that in spite of my holding onto her leash with both hands, I was sure she was either going to either escape my grip or inadvertently pull me to the ground in her enthusiasm. While I was certainly glad to be outdoors, I was exhausted by the time we ended our walk, but Kaia could have gone on for miles. I needed to build up my stamina. Kaia could barely contain hers.

As we embark on this final week of Advent, we find ourselves in an interesting space, caught up in the midst of anticipatory waiting, the exhaustion of holiday preparations, perhaps, and the expectant hope of a child’s birth. In the four weeks of Advent, we’ve been building up for this moment! Our weeks of wintering now find their crowning moment in a stable in Bethlehem. It’s hard to contain the excitement of such things, nor should we have to. We are about to experience a welcome burst of unbridled joy in the midst of the mundanity of life, a moment of beauty and grace outside our normal routine. May it be one that invites us to rediscover the sights and sounds, and even smells, of this season of light and hope. Joy to the world, indeed. A child is about to be born—a child who will change everything!

Lisa Raylene Barnes



God of wonders, we wait with expectant hope as we anticipate the joy of a child’s birth. May we experience your light, your grace, your mercy as we look toward Bethlehem.