Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her king;
Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
With “Joy to the world” in our hearts and minds, I invite you to join me in looking each of these twelve days of Christmas for instances of the joy that runs through all of creation, especially through experiencing the beauty and wonder of God’s world.
Today, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, was extremely cold in Nebraska and throughout the Midwest. This is the sort of cold that is dangerous enough that it is causing school cancellations for tomorrow even where there is no snow.
I experienced the bitter cold for a little bit this morning before heading to Arizona on a short trip to see family. It is cooler than usual here, too, but balmy by comparison to home. There are, along with striking landscaping with the native plants that tolerate desert conditions, the odd places here and there that cultivate the sorts of annuals that are commonly used as bedding plants in the Midwest. From the viewpoint of water conservation, this is not the best idea, and while the colors are brilliant against the browns, reds, and softer greens fo the desert, they look out of place. However, for me today, seeing a couple of flowerbeds with petunias, snapdragons, and pansies was like seeing some dear old friends.
Thinking about how hard it would be were I at home to imagine that somewhere a fairly short plane ride away these flowers were blooming, I began thinking about how hard it is for us to imagine and remember what is going on in other parts of the world. We experienced three summertime Christmases when we lived in New Zealand in the early 1980's, and still it is hard at times to really realize when snow and cold envelop us that there is a big world out there where everything is different. While we were celebrating our wintry Christmas in the northern United States this year, there was a dreadul heatwave in Argentina. Few Americas are aware of this, as it got little news coverage and seems so distant from what we are experiencing.
The diversity in climate and geography is a great joy when we allow ourselves to look outward enough to remember it. Even when I'm in the deep cold or sizzling heat in my part of the world, it's a delight to know that somewhere conditions are very different. Joy for the whole world in all its diversity seems a fitting joy as we end Christmas and go into Epiphany.