When I was in Delaware with Chris over Thanksgiving, we had to go with my sister, brother-in-law and the nephews to Longwood Gardens. It’s a DuPont estate, and, if the name doesn’t give it away, a huge garden. It’s beautiful, and amazing, and you should totally check it out if you’re ever in Wilmington with a few hours to kill. My favorite part of the excursion, by far, was when we got to the model trains.
It was a simple set-up, with a few different tracks and a few different models going around, including two that Oliver (almost four) knows very well: Thomas the Tank Engine, and Percy the Green One That’s Basically the Same. And they chugged along at eye level for him, and for fifteen minutes, every time either would round the corner, Oliver would lose his mind. “Look! Look! It’s Thomas!” Jack, who is one and a half, knew there was a reason to be excited and thus joined in. “It’s Percy! There’s Percy!” Around and around the trains came, and each time, with the same level of excitement, wonder and joy, Oliver would loudly pronounce, “It’s Thomas! It’s Thomas!” For. Fifteen. Minutes.
I’ll admit, that joy is contagious. That’s the thing about joy—even a little bit goes a very, very long way. If you haven’t guessed, or been following along in our Advent process this year, this Sunday, we’ll be talking about Joy. Joy is perhaps the most challenging of the four Sundays in Advent. Can we find joy in discipleship? What does it mean to seek joy in the Hebrew Bible passages about future restoration, future reconciliation, future resurrection, and where’s the present work of God in all this? And what’s the deal with the pink candle, anyway? The answers to all of these may surprise you. But that’s perhaps part of joy—the ability to be surprised even in the season of antici——-pation. We’ll have to find out together on Sunday. I look forward to seeing you then.