Overwhelmed by Joy

Many of us are in churches that are using an Advent wreath to help focus our worship in these weeks before Christmas. Realizing that there are many different ways of observing this ancient tradition, I don’t want to impose our planning schedule on yours; but our four Advent themes are Repentance, Anticipation, Joy (this week), and Hope. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a personal reflection on Christian joy by poet Ulrich Schaffer.

[WARNING: This is free verse. If you need regular meter and rhyme in order to enjoy poetry, you’ll have to look elsewhere today.]


I experienced it again today.
You were suddenly there
with your surprising presence.

You were suddenly there
without any visible reason, 
without my having done anything, 
without preparation,
without warning.
Suddenly you were there 
with your complete joy,
With the relaxation which emanates from you, 
with the sense you put back into life.

There you are
And I can only smile
At how connected everything is in my life.

I sense your liberation
and I see that you have come to me
as a human being again
and I am happy to live in that realization.

I become strong in this joy.
My life receives a new elasticity
and becomes interesting for others.

but only because this joy
is in contact with you
because all manufactured, drummed-up joy
leaves a great emptiness behind.

But I also know
that this joy
which seems so secure now
can come to an end very quickly.

I don’t want to think about that.

I do want to think about that
because the beginning of joy,
the climax of joy,
and the end of joy
all come from God,

for those who love God.

Then the amazing thing happens:
joy becomes a background
on which my entire life takes place,
a security which allows me
to bear all uncertainty.

A background that is hardly noticeable
yet creates solidity and perspective 
in the picture.

Ulrich Schaffer, “Overwhelmed by Joy,” from GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS: PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981, pp. 101-103.
ISBN 0-06-067088-6

Let every heart prepare Him room.
Have a great week,

Chip Stam