Today's reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. (v. 15b)
Remember when "As if" was a complete sentence? It was the "what-ev-er" of the 1980s, a concise, cutting expression of derision and disagreement. A verbal roll-of-the-eyes.
Today, as I think about the concept of joy, as I consider the head-in-the-clouds optimism of this prophet's pronouncement, the response that comes to mind is: "As if."
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.
But this is the journey of Advent. A journey through a dark land. A journey of tears, of wailing and rending of clothes. A journey whose path is in shadow, twisting and turning, seeming to disappear for awhile, leading us across valleys of death and over the treacherous climbs of seemingly insurmountable peaks.
A journey of joy, because we believe that the Light comes to us, that the Way leads us, that the Child welcomes us. In Advent, no matter how dark, how twisted, how lonely the world's ways seem, we can speak of Joy. As if.
Joy, as if God's complete redemption of our world has already happened---because in God's eternal timespan, we believe that we are ever redeemed.
Joy, as if there is nothing to fear.
Joy, as if our enemies have been changed, turned around into companions.
Joy, as if God is at this moment singing over us and rejoicing in us, renewing us in love and to love.
Joy, as if we have all been brought Home.
May our every song, every prayer, every opinion, every comment, every toast, every gathering of this season be full of this Joy---even in the dark; especially in the dark---as if the Joy of the World himself is already come.