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Repeat Your Sounding Joy

by Aubrey Sampson

My first mistake was purchasing footie pajamas.

"Mom, I am seven. I don’t wear footies anymore." 

"What about the ones from last year? I thought you liked those." 

"Well, they have guitars on them. Guitars are cool. These have reindeer. They’re for babies." 

My second mistake was returning the footies without a receipt.

The sales clerk would only offer store credit in exchange for the jammies. I was assured, however, the credit could be used in store or online.

My third mistake was believing the store credit would indeed work in-store or online.

After one week of being told to call back the next business day; after another of practicing patience and politeness, I began to get angry. Actually, anger doesn’t quite describe it. I became a woman on the edge. 

Transforming into the black swan version of myself, I called the 1-800 number obsessively. I sent stern emails multiple times per day. I strategized the store’s demise. I was ready to call local news stations, rally social media platforms, and instigate a huge commotion about this retailer’s consumer relations. I foresaw them suffering a major PR disaster. They’d apologize publicly for their mistreatment of such a superior customer. And for my trouble, my family would receive a lifetime supply of free pajamas.

I don’t often hear the Lord speak audibly. But, somewhere in the middle of my plot to overtake the footie-pajama industry, I could’ve sworn I heard a voice from heaven: 

Let it go, Aubrey. You are becoming possessed by this pursuit. It has become an idol.  

I don't know what it is about the holidays, but I tend to get a teensy bit off kilter.

Usually, it begins around Halloween. Those moments I would normally spend calling local politicians or writing meaningful blog posts are consumed with online shopping. When Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m on a slow and steady decline; making lists, checking them twice, racing back and forth from toy store to clothing store to big box store. 

By the time December 24th rolls around, if I'm not careful, I’ll have created a season of chaotic silence—filled with celebrity holiday trends, Ebay bids, and twenty-percent off codes—but empty of easing others’ suffering, bereft of praise, devoid of the Savior. 

In the book of Luke, the birth story of Jesus begins with silence. 

God’s people have endured generations of stillness. No word from prophets. No visits from angels. No fire from heaven.

From out of that quietness, in a small corner of the world, a rustling begins. 

An angel appears at the temple. A once-barren woman is now ripe with expectation and joy. A prophet is coming. A virgin mother begins to sing. A dumbstruck priest speaks again. 

God is finally turning up the volume of His Voice, or rather, opening up the ears of His people to hear the Sound that’s been there all along.  

In an effort to remember the Lord’s voice (and my own) at Christmastime, My husband and I began a family tradition a few years ago. Each Advent evening, we’ll turn off all the lights in the house and gather around the dinner table. Kevin will say these words:

“The world was in darkness and sin. God’s people were waiting.”

We spend a few moments like that.

In the darkness.

In quiet anticipation.

Our three sons stifle giggles and earnestly endeavor to make themselves as still as their little bodies will allow.

Just when they can’t contain themselves any longer, I’ll strike a match and light the Advent candle. We’ll all shout, “But, Jesus came to light up the whole world!”     

Luke 1: 78-79 says, "because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide us on the path of peace.”

This Christmas season, as the darkness of what we’ve done and have left undone speaks loudly; as our mistakes add up, and as we inevitably lose ourselves in customer service fiascos again, we are nevertheless blessed.

The Lord mercifully breaks through our darkness with His Light.  He tenderly guides our feet towards peace. He gracefully interrupts our noise with His own.  

Oh God, we are prone to deafness. Repeat your sounding joy for us this Advent. 

Yes, repeat your sounding joy. 

Guest blogger Aubrey Sampson is a pastor's wife and stay-at-home mom to three sons (which is to say, she spends most days in her pajamas drinking a lot of coffee.) When Aubrey manages to get dressed, she blogs about overcoming shame at www.aubreysampson.com.  You can connect with her on Twitter or Instagram at @aubsamp.