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Repeat the Sounding Joy

You are what you eat. You heart hears what you repeat. What is on “repeat” in your heart and mind these days? As we are half way through the season of Advent I invite you to investigate a spiritual practice to aid in the call to Joy for Advent week 3.

Here is a tool to help you to “pray without ceasing”. In the Contemplative Prayer tool box choosing an Active Prayer phrase allows one to “pray without ceasing”.

This weekend we hear 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 . Paul encourages the church in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing”. There is an Advent waltz I want to invite you to consider:

  1. Rejoice Always

  2. Pray without ceasing

  3. Give thanks in all circumstances

Often it’s in the middle that we experience the greatest challenge and it prepares us for the significant change. So in this 1-2-3 waltz for Advent consider how an Active Prayer phrase can aid you in “praying without ceasing”. One suggestion made to me this summer in a retreat was to consider how my Active Prayer phrase might be put to music. If you are seeking a phrase perhaps a refrain or line from a song will suit you. I have written before about how a line from this song (sorry for the ads in it- such is YouTube these days) is “on repeat” for me. I modified a lyric to create this Active Prayer phrase for myself: take me deeper where my faith will be made stronger.

And boy have I been taken into the deep this year. My guess is that many of you might say the similar. In the stress, the overwhelm, the changes and challenges- I keep being reminded to take a deep breath. Replacing the fears, worries and preoccupations with my active prayer phrase is a reminder to put this song on repeat. The word “deeper” has come to be a word for me to use to pause. “God of the deep end” is a beginning for some of my prayers. As this year comes to a close, I reflect upon how my faith is being made stronger.

A story from my childhood that my mother used to share about my personality; She told of watching me at age four in swim lessons, be the first one to raise her hand to go on the diving board to jump into the deep end. I knew how to swim, but hadn’t yet learned to dive. That would take time but would start with a jump. That story has come back to me several times this year. In the fears and uncertainties of this time -how can I connect with that four year old me who was so willing to jump?

This has lead to reflections upon water and swimming; reflecting on swimming led to reflections also on floating. There is a deep calm in being held in the water. To remember in the deep- to take the breaks, to float, to allow the water to do the work. Floating is often more difficult to teach than swimming. Floating is a form of surrender- we need to allow the water to hold us.

The ocean, the beach, a lake, a pool, a stream, a river- all of those are my “happy place”. The joy of this season is distinct from happiness. This invitation to “rejoice always” is not based on external events. This is an invitation to an internal state of joy, in your very being. Consider this internal state of joy as being held, connected and comforted by the Holy Spirit

To help connect you with that internal state of "being held in joy" I offer up "Joy to the World" as a hymn for you in the season of Advent. Prepare your heart to receive, let the this song help you repeat the sounding joy, let joy be a gift to you in the midst of whatever your circumstances.

Here are some versions of that song to aid in letting a tune guide you in rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in all circumstance; Pentatonix and Phil Wickham each add their unique take on this favorite hymn.

Today, in this moment, slow down-allowing for an opportunity to do the opposite of what the world around us might be encouraging. Instead of getting busier and more anxious about all the unknowns and uncertainties, instead of buying and consuming more, instead of focusing only on external preparations of decorations and sorting out presents here is an invitation from a song from Simon and Garfunkel; slow down.

This week let joy be on repeat for you. Consider entering the 1-2-3 waltz of 1Thessalonians 5- rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3. Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat. Repeat. The sounding joy.

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