By Rev. Tyler Heston, Minister to Youth

December seems to be a busy month for most people, but my December was particularly busy. On top of holiday activities and (last-minute) Christmas shopping, a good friend of mine here in Kansas City, Morgan, got married the Saturday before Christmas (and I was honored to officiate). She is from Cleveland originally, so she and her husband, Geoff, invited friends and family from across the globe for ceremony and celebration as they were united in marriage. I think six different countries were represented. My other roommates along with a handful of our other friends, drove and flew out from Kansas City, too. There was something sweet about all convening after miles of travel in another city for the celebration of Morgan’s lifetime.

In July, when Morgan first shared the news with us that she and Geoff were officially engaged, we were not surprised. They had been together for years, living in different cities together and different cities apart, including a year across the globe as Geoff was deployed in Poland. They’re genuine and adventurous and goofy unlike anyone else I know— and a perfect fit for each other. We were surprised they were getting married so soon, though. December was coming up quickly, and we knew the weekend before Christmas would particularly be a difficult weekend to get away. But we understood; there were health issues in Morgan’s family, and she wanted to have the wedding while everyone she loves could still attend; Geoff expected another deployment early in 2020. The weekend before Christmas worked the best for their schedules, so they went for it.

The timing of the wedding, along with the distance so many traveled to be there, made the event so special. There is something sacred about the bold choice to choose celebration and joy. All weekend, I was reminded about the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2. In John’s account of Jesus life and ministry, this is the first miracle Jesus performed. Rather than heal someone from a life-threatening sickness or cast out a demon wreaking havoc on someone’s life, Jesus’ first sign of God’s power is to turn water into wine when a wedding celebration prematurely ran out. It’s not even his idea— it’s his mother’s. She suggests he do something about it, but he insists that his “time hasn’t come yet” (John 2:11 CEB). She doesn’t take no for an answer.

After the wine again flows in abundance, one of the hosts exclaims— “Everyone serves the good wine first. They bring out the second-rate wine only when the guests are drinking freely. You kept the good wine until now.” Through this, Jesus revealed his glory, and that God’s way is a way of abundance.

As we find our groove of the new year, may we find ways in our own lives to choose joy and to see that God is a God of abundance. We proclaimed “joy to the world” throughout December and Advent, awaiting Christ’s birth. Advent is not the end of the story, though; it’s the beginning. The joy that God is born into our world is something to unfold all year long. How will you boldy choose joy?