Modern Nativity: Joy
-Rev. Becki Barrett-
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it
with justice and righteousness
now and forever.
I came home from school one sunny afternoon to find a gigantic pile of dirt in our front yard. My friends and I stared at it in wonder. Neatly piled in the center, it beckoned to, “Come! Run and jump and roll and play!” Who had given us this gift? It never occurred to any of us.
For hours, we ran and played and rolled down the hill. We pushed one another down the soft mound of silken dirt and chased each other until patches of brown stuck to our sweaty faces. In unison, we thrust ourselves into the joy of eight-year-old play. Jumping. Running. Teasing. Laughing. We played until the large mound had blown into the air and left a small bump of dirt on a semi-green lawn in the suburbs. That’s when my mom pulled into the driveway.
I was seized by fear from the look on her face. I had no idea why my joyful afternoon was about to turn into chores and restriction. But, I knew it was true. Friends scattered. Peace descended. My heart raced as my mom explained (I mean yelled) that the dirt was there for the sprinkler installation tomorrow. It was an expensive amusement park afternoon.
There is an intersection between joy and justice. Deep inside us all is a longing to play without abandon – a deep desire to let go and allow the joy of life to take us over. There may be mistakes made along the way and consequences for our actions but deep down we are created to be at play – with our God – in the Garden. Joy is letting go and allowing God to be God. We are not perfect. And, neither is our neighbor. Joy comes with the gift of letting go of the hand of justice and embracing the love for our world that sent our Prince of Peace.
Bryan Stevenson says, “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Seeing ourselves…seeing our neighbors…in this light invites us into the world ready to work and play and mess up and forgive and laugh. Seeing ourselves in this light allows us to live in the joyful forgiveness of God and extend that grace to others – our family, our friends, our enemies. Seeing ourselves in this light allows us to live in the wonder of the joyful birth of our Savior who wipes the dirt from our faces and calls us Beloved.
Creative God, help us live in the joy of your creative order. Amen.
Rev. Becki Barrett is the Senior Pastor at Overlake Park PC in Bellevue, WA. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Becki attended Whitworth University receiving a degree in Secondary Education and then graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2002. Becki has held pastoral positions leading family ministry, mission, caring ministry, and became an executive pastor before her call to be a senior pastor in Bellevue, WA. She loves all areas of ministry and developed her own leadership development coaching company because of her love for developing strong leaders using Strengths Finder 2.0. Becki served as the chair of the Personnel Committee for the Seattle Presbytery for six years and now loves her work as the Moderator of the Executive Committee. At OPPC, Becki is known for her humor, energy, and love for Jesus, the church and the Bellevue neighborhood. At home, she is known for hiking, reading fiction, and travel.