For the past few months, I’ve been leading a study of the Wisdom Literature–the books of Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and the letter of James along with passages from other books sprinkled in. It’s funny how often the themes of these studies, while I’m in the midst of them, appear throughout all parts of my life. It’s a constant barrage of messages reminding me what I’m supposed to be taking from these lessons and discussions.
A couple weeks ago, I read to the women this beautiful passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9
The following week, I stepped in to lector at Mass when the lector was unable to be there. Guess what the reading was…
You guessed it. Philippians 4:4-9.
This and other messages have been appearing often lately, cropping up here and there like summer dandelions in the bright green grass. Almost all of them have contained the same two commands: Rejoice and Pray without ceasing.
How perfect for this season that these commands are the two things with which I am being bombarded?
Rejoice, always, and then, rejoice again! Christmas is about rejoicing. It’s about the yes of a young girl who trusted God above all else and surrendered her entire life into His hands (Luke 1:38). It’s about the trust of a carpenter who believed what he could not see and followed the will of God (Matthew 1:20). It’s about leaping and dancing for joy at the coming of the Lord (Luke 1:44). It’s about welcoming someone into your home and marveling at the gifts they bring while giving the gift of yourself and your wisdom in return (Luke 1:56). It’s about believing in angels and the messages they bring to us (Luke 2:15). It’s about believing in promises and signs that God will be with us and lead us on a journey to find Him (Matthew 2:2). It’s about the fulfillment of God’s promises to us that He would send His Son (John 3:16).
This year in particular can be compared to the long wait of the Israelites, the time when there seemed to be little hope, when the prophets disappeared and the kingdom seemed to be lost. We are walking in the darkness, but rejoice! “The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen” (Isaiah 9:2). There is a light coming, the dawn of a new day, so have hope in all that is to come.
But how do we get to that place of rejoicing? How do we journey toward the light when there is still darkness surrounding us?
Ah, that is the second part of the bombarding messages – pray without ceasing.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul connects the two: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
We don’t know what the next few days will bring. We don’t know if plans will need to be canceled, if someone will become ill, or even if a sudden storm will halt holidays plans. What we do know is that we must rejoice, no matter what. We must show gratitude for what we have, no matter how much or how little it is. We must continue to pray for our families, our country, our world, our friends and neighbors, our doctors and nurses, our military and first responders, every person who walks by faith, and especially those without any faith at all.
This Christmas, rejoice, be glad, and pray without end. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
March 9, 2022 – Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, Wayne, PA 6:00PM – Lenten Reflection
April 9, 2022 – First Landing Wine and Arts Festival, St. Clement’s Island Museum, Clements, MD
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two will be out in early 2022. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines, is now available in all formats.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021).