Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
December 5th, 2011
by Janine ter Kuile
Financial Aid Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Monday of the Second Week in Advent
[181] Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalms 85:9ab+10, 11-12, 13-14 
Luke 5:17-26

Today’s reading from Isaiah offers up rich, delicious poetry proclaiming the ultimate experience of joy…coming home. Our senses are struck by the intoxicating splendor of words like vindication and exultation.  Miracles like,  ‘the eyes of the blind will open, the ears of the deaf be cleared,’ have Jesus’ written all over them.

Why was Israel called the Promised Land? Because of its relationship with its neighbors, being in the center of the Middle East, Africa and Europe, it was ideal land for invaders.  No wonder the stories abound throughout Jewish history of the suffering servant and the promise of the Messiah.  I don’t know how it feels to be homeless, I do know the feeling of being ‘homesick’.  But they were slaves in a foreign land.  I wonder, do homeless people in America feel this way?  Or modern day African refugees who are displaced by genocide, rape and famine?  The Batwa pygmy tribe in Eastern Congo is one of dozens of indigenous tribes who have been evicted from their ancestral regions for so-called conservation, without any compensation. They are systematically expelled with no place to go.  The Karamojong of northeastern Uganda account for 80% of the of street kids and beggars in the capital city of Kampala.  I am sure they too, have songs and poetry that help them hang onto places they sometimes forget they have.  The indescribable energy of African music speaks of the JOY felt at the promise of a redeemed nation that no one can take away. 

This is a time of year we think of joy.  Happy times for some… family traditions… warmth… gifts.  It can also be a time of dread for others, the first Christmas without a loved one or a time of unemployment without means to give; a time that adds more salt to the wound.  Some of us may suffer a terminal illness or divorce will force us to share our children between homes.  This can be a season that only brings more struggles. 

Then there are others who find the joy in helping others.  Hugh Henderson of Virginia is creating a mission program to better meet the needs of the homeless in rural Appalachia, one of the hardest hit areas of the U.S.  He does this alongside running a global business.  He feels “called to serve the poorest-of-the-poor in this country, who are more broken than any poor I have seen overseas”.   He takes students from a local fraternity to deliver presents to the children and to spend time with them before they leave for their own holidays.  He says, “The ministry to the homeless here has been inspiring to me, and so full of joy and victory.” This is an understanding rooted in joy because he can look past himself and know the joy of helping others. Helping to make “the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be cleared.”  Both the homeless of America and the world’s indigenous people experience survival, one day at a time.

This season I hope you find joy.  The kind that is not just a moment of happiness, but JOY that you feel deep down under and don’t need to smile about.  For me, my mother’s death followed by my daughter’s wedding, brought joy full circle.  My mother’s death is a spring of water and my daughter’s joy… a walk entering  Zion, singing!  And yet I have experienced the desert also… seeking a job that sustains me as a single woman and searching for a church to be fed by worship. 

It is painful watching the world move on while you are immersed in a dark place. If you are in a dark place today, you are not alone. Rest assured, things will change. It may take awhile, but it will arrive and you can find joy in that right now.  We will all be made whole again in the future.  Let the JOY of Advent bring you ever closer to the knowledge that knowing what is, will not always be.  You will be whole. We are given the promise of coming home.

“Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace will kiss.”

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