Multiple times this fall I’ve heard the acronym Jesus, Others, You for joy.
Can joy really be reduced to a simple acronym? Part of me recoils and wants to back away saying, “Well, that might work for new believers or people who are wired more innocently than I am. I’m a bit too, ahem, sophisticated for this.”
And then Jesus gave me that look that said, “My mom may have ridden on a donkey but you don’t have to act like one.” So I scraped the lofty post I’d mentally written about the joy of Christmas pasts, the joy of Christmas present, and the joy of Christmas future.
Jesus said, “Remember J.O.Y. is exactly what Velvet Ashes is about.”
We are here because of Jesus. Joanna movingly shared earlier this week the ways Jesus comes to meet us.
We are here because of You. You, the one reading this, you are not a number, a lurker, a commenter, a reader, you are an image bearer of the Most High God. Without you, there is no Velvet Ashes.
We are here because of Others. This is the part Jesus whispered, Amy don’t you see the beauty of Others at times that are Big Days? On your own, your Christmas is about your story and experience this year. But offered here in the space, it grows and expands big enough to hold hope and disappointment and laughter and tears and firsts and lasts. It holds the Body of Christ.
As I’ve been carrying this post in my heart this month, I’ve seen among us the “others”
who walk beautiful and hard paths.
Those who spent their last Christmas “home” before moving to the field.
Others for whom this is your first year on the field — and it maybe has been more joyful than you ever imagined Christmas or more lonely than you anticipated.
Some of us were laughed at as you shared the hope for the season and you wonder in those quiet parts “Do I hear myself? I am a fool for believing all this?”
Others still who, when you shared the good news, were met with open hearts and the doors to eternity opened. Rejoicing with you!
We have amongst us new life this year!
And empty nests. And empty wombs. And beds built for two but only holding one.
Some for whom this was their last Christmas on the field and almost every moment was pregnant with meaning and longing to capture memories.
We have cooking flops and success stories. And the packages … some have arrived and others still in route. And more than a few, “What were they thinking sending that here?” And truth be told, some that will never be sent because as the years go by, it’s not that you’re forgotten, but you’re fading.
We have in our ranks those distant from relatives and others with once-in-a-life-time visits from family.
We have those for whom this was your first Christmas off the field, either you’re on Home Assignment or you’ve transitioned back to your passport country. Oh the range of feelings and expectations!
We have people who are thriving and we love your energy. We have people battling illnesses of the body, mind, and spirit and we are sorry to see you suffer.
We have those who are excelling in language learning and those who are drowning in it.
We are all this.
At Christmas we have J.O.Y. We have Jesus. We have ourselves and our Christmas this year. And we have others and the hope of knowing we are not alone.
It’s as simple and complex as J.O.Y. Today, would you offer a slice of your Christmas to us all? We’d love to see a picture from your day.
Thanks friends. With love and joy, Amy on behalf of the Velvet Ashes Team
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