“Joy is an Act of Resistance.”


“Joy is an act of resistance.” This stirring phrase is a revelation to me on how to live in troubled times, and anytime!  It is a call for an inner revolution that transforms our response to our outer realities. As a realist and one who is susceptible to seeing the negative side of everything, it is a summons to choose joy no matter what I perceive to be happening on the ground! Joy insists on resisting the negativism and self-doubt and lean into the positive possibilities come what may!

Last Friday I went to an event that brought refugees and the rest of us together. I saw the event on Facebook and was intrigued by the idea of playing sports and eating food with refugees. I clicked I would go. Since it was Ramadan and many refugees come from Muslim countries, the food would wait till after sundown. Okay, I can do that!

So that evening I trekked the 30 minutes  underground on Metro line 8 to Ecole Militaire station and then walked the rest of the way. When I came to the sprawling ‘Champs de Mars’ next to Gustave’s marvel, the Eiffel,  I searched for what might look like a group of refugees  ready to play games. But I just couldn’t find the group among the myriad of picnickers. I walked and walked some more. No luck. When I asked some guys selling beer to tourists if there was a playing field somewhere they gave some dubious directions and walked some more in the wrong direction! Of course the joke was on me!

So I pretty well gave up and sent a few ‘woe is me’ texts to my wife and making the last full circle of the ‘champs’ I had decided to leave. “Oh well, at least I got to see the Eiffel Tower” I sighed. Then in the corner of my eye I saw a makeshift volleyball net being erected. That’s them, I was sure of it. So I made my way to join. Time to forget my tired legs, my feelings of frustration, and my empty belly. Time to hang out, and play sports! Right?

raineiffelWrong! The skies decided otherwise, and opened up and dropped rain drops. The lightning eventually partnered with the increasingly heavier rain drops and I found myself huddled under a tree with complete strangers. Some hard-core sports types tried to play volleyball but soon gave up too. The event was over in a flash. Then I noticed an unused mini umbrella at the foot of the tree still wrapped tightly in its bindings. Seeing no one else go for it, I did. And holding it up I was joined by two others, refugees wanting to stay dry like me. The conversation began to flow and what seemed like a waste of time for the realist, became a moment of joy to live into. We said our goodbyes and ran at once under the wet heavens and earth to our metro and bus stops. The rain really did wipe out our night!

The next morning listening to a podcast with my wife I heard the phrase, “Joy is an act of resistance.” I had to write it down. Afterwards the podcast was done Patricia asked me how have I seen this act of resistance, this joy at play in my life? She knows my natural tendency to negativism. So I had to think hard. And then I realized how precious my rain filled adventure actually was. She said, “You were present. You made an effort. ” I saw it, just as she said, I realised that even though I was cold, I was present in the moment and surrounded by people from countries none of us would choose to live in. No, this wasn’t a waste of time. I knew then and there I needed to resist more. Joy was calling my name!

So I will pray and invite you to pray these words with me even if you aren’t a prayer kind of person: “Help me, God of creation, to resist all negativity in my life. Don’t let my thoughts go there. Make me know your joy. Let it be in me today. Let me feel it all day long. No matter the responses around me or circumstances I find myself in. I resist all negativism and complaining. Amen”

 Hebrews 12: 2, 3  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 

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Christmas Conspiracy


He sees the violence in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Myanmar… and beyond. He sees the blazing fires in America and famines in Africa. He sees the systemic greed of big corporations with so many of the super rich hoarding wealth while the poor drown in despair. He sees the nuclear warheads being tested and others positioned to strike. He sees the destruction of the earth’s resources and many beautiful species of animals dwindling. He sees, not like Santa, looking to punish ‘the naughty’ with a gift of coal and ‘the nice’ with sparkling toys under the tree. He sees our planet, believe it or not, not through the lens of disappointment, but through eyes of hope that mankind would embrace an alternative world.

It is our belief that something cataclysmic already happened, a beginning of a new earth and a new heaven became a reality when some angel woke some sleepy shepherds in a field with an unbelievable proclamation….

“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a saviour…”  (Luke 2:11)

What? A saviour! Call us believers gullible, or worse; no worries we can handle it. Call God a ceaseless romantic, a subversive strategist, a lover who will not relent and you have a better picture of who He really is! The merry message of Christmas is a divine conspiracy of hope and true peace for our threatened planet and for all those who live in it. It’s the greatest turn-around of all times.

In a tiny place called Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for a pregnant young Threewisemenwoman and her fiancé, they found a spot in some stable. It began. The birthing of something so alternative that not many could believe. It went almost unnoticed but for a few. The unexpected, as described by Isaiah hundreds of years before, was birthed, (Isaiah 9:6). A new kind of King of a new kind of Kingdom, with glorious outcomes. Yet as Isaiah foretold, it was a study of the unobvious: He grew up as a tender healing plant, like a root out of dry ground, (Isaiah 53:2). His beginnings so fragile, a solitary voice with a message so radical that few recognized his beautiful revolution or took to his message of a generous benevolent forgiving God.

But some did and some still do. We were not hoodwinked by an institution threatening us with hell-fire. No we saw the beautiful reign of a prodigal-welcoming Father running to us, come to make all things new. This is the hope for mankind. And lo and behold, the turn-the-other-cheek-go-the-distance-Son-of-God/man brought it to us, an alternative way to bring about an alternative world. It is at hand. It is available to where we are and as we are in the ‘here and now’.

Christmas, it’s not over yet. Not even near. He sees all the chaos in our world bent on destruction and despair, but it doesn’t faze this Saviour. He has the patience and kindness to show us the folly of our tired old unworkable ways and bring us closer to His generous heart. This is the Christmas conspiracy. Do you believe it?