Joy - Thursday, December 17
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
Matthew 2:10 (NRSV)
Rising stars, shooting stars, flickering stars… So much of our star imagery involves moving stars. The motion indicates increasing power, excitement, or perhaps awe at the distance of space. And yet here is a short little bible verse in which a star stops. The motion ceases. It sounds like equivalent of time stopping. The natural movements of the universe have suddenly shifted – or come to a complete standstill.
That sounds like a terrifying prospect. Historically, such phenomena as eclipses have struck terror into the hearts of people across cultures and eras. A star stopping is an even greater phenomenon. And yet, "they were overwhelmed with joy."
What a concept it is, to be "overwhelmed with joy." It flies in the face of stoicism. The idea of being "overwhelmed with" allows us to consider joy as a cataclysmic force – a power to change the way things are, an upheaval of the "natural state of things," yet in a direction completely opposite of the destruction that the word "cataclysm" implies.
There are many possibilities for experiencing fear in our day-to-day lives; the news reports bring us numerous examples. Occasionally, those reports will include reasons for celebration, and those are to be noticed, remembered, and lifted up.
More often, we must find our own versions of the "stopped star" and let that occasion overwhelm us with joy. These days, that might require some permission or some seeking. But really, those who first saw the star stop were seeking, weren’t they?
Let us seek within our own lives and daily experience for opportunities to be "overwhelmed with joy." It is an awesome idea.