On this third week of Advent, I hope for you the kind of joy that I found this week.

Since the birth of my second son, his mother noted that his twenty-first birthday would coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. We knew it would be a long shot for a trip like that to come to fruition, but as optimistic parents, we remained hopeful.

Now, we knew there would be a lot of variables that might prevent the trip, some anticipated and others not-so-anticipated.

We did not know about vocational responsibilities.

We did not know about school calendars.

We did not know about affordability.

We did not know if our two adult children would even want to spend a week with us.

We did not know about a global pandemic bringing the world to a standstill.

We did not know the variables of the pandemic threatening global reopening.

Thankfully, the stars aligned for us and we booked a trip.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking.  Walt Disney World? Really? The epitome of mass-market capitalism and frivolous spending?  At this moment in time?

Well, I don’t blame you for judging and you just might be right. However, as a husband and father, I will never apologize for the last eight days of uninterrupted time with my family in a magical place we enjoy. Watching my family smile and laugh this week was the greatest joy I could ever hope for this Advent season.

Smiles broke out at Magic Kingdom as we rode Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.  Laughter flooded Epcot as we virtually parasailed on Soarin’ and enjoyed holiday goodies around the World Showcase.  Screams echoed through Animal Kingdom as we zoomed down Expedition Everest and through Avatar’s Pandora.

However, the most magical moment came at Hollywood Studios when we visited the Star Wars lightsaber workshop, where before my eyes, my two adult sons reverted back to their childhoods.  It was a holy and sacred thing to witness for me.

Why you might ask?

When they were younger, the boys and I had a Saturday afternoon ritual we enjoyed.  After soccer games were completed and the Texas sun was too hot to bear, we would microwave some popcorn, open a sleeve of Oreo cookies, and slam Star Wars into the DVD player.

When the movie was over – and sometimes during – we would use foam noodles to duel each other. Of course, I was always the bad guy as my two young Jedis saved the universe from the perils of the dark side.

On that late night at Hollywood Studios when their lightsabers lit up for the first time, I looked into their adult faces to see my young boys saving the universe again.  However, this time I knew they did not need a lightsaber to do it.

They, along with their remarkable generation, will save the world through their imaginative innovation, compassionate hearts, and thirst for justice.

I stood there watching, not as the bad guy any longer, but as an admirer.  I willingly admit, both a smile and tear fell across my face that night.

For the next fifteen minutes, my two sons twirled and dueled their way across the park laughing at themselves and enjoying every moment. As I watched them live out their childhood dreams, a complete sense of joy and hope overcame me.

Now, it had nothing to do with Disney magic – even though it helped. But, it was the simple notion of knowing that my two sons had grown up to become amazing adults but still knew how to have fun and enjoy family.

The epistle reading this third week of Advent comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  In chapter four, he writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:4-7).

While I know the coming of the Christ child is the ultimate joy leading to hope and peace for the world, watching my two adult sons engage in a lightsaber duel at Walt Disney World is a pretty close second for me.

We find joy, hope, and peace in moments like these.  Therefore, may we wrap these in our hearts and minds and never let them go.

May you and your family find joy leading to peace this holiday season.


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