The Third Sunday of Advent takes us into the week of Joy (Rejoicing). Lighting the pink Advent wreath candle, we reflect on having every reason to rejoice in gladness at the coming of the Lord who makes right all that sin, evil, brokenness and death vandalized and made wrong.
Note: I had written this blog post and was about to send it when I heard news of the horrendous Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre.
Out of respect, I want to be sensitive and prayerful towards those who are facing suffering and hardship during this season.
Christmas is a delightful disruption
of the way things normally go. Dean Willimon
In the midst of a sacred and festive season of observing the coming of Christ, for many it is not “the most wonderful time of the yeart”.
For some, it may be ‘the season to get the ‘holiday blues’, or even worse, suffering through a horrific disruption, suddenly hurling a tragic new normal.
We desperately need God’s comfort and Divine Joy.
The struggles of life don’t stop for Christmas.
“I’ll be home for Christmas” may not evoke warm, inviting, anticipation. Instead you may feel sad because you or a loved one are ill or can’t be with friends and family – or may be mourning the traumatic loss of a loved one.
Others may feel anxious and dread, the pressure of having to play Dysfunctional Family Bingo again.
We are all singing our own version of – This is what Christmas means to me.
The true meaning of Christmas may be quenched or disrupted by – Stress. Pressure. Lack. Loneliness. Disappointment. Longing. Sickness.
Sad memories. Loss. Heartache and tragedy.
Good News of Great Joy
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2: 8-10
Sovereign Christmas ‘JOY’ is not ‘happiness’ dependent on sensory pleasure or an emotional state of mind dependent on circumstantial happiness.
It’s not the lights, decorations, songs, festivities and gatherings that are a delightful disruption.
Joy is the serious business of heaven. C. S. Lewis
Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love.
Joy is the net of love by which we can catch souls. Mother Teresa
True Christmas ‘Joy’ is Christ coming to us.
God is Love. God is Sovereign Joy. Joy is connected to love.
Being in the presence of Jesus is Divine Joy.
Joy is ever present, always in you. Joy doesn’t need a reason.
May we open our hearts to receive this Joy and let it radiate from us.
1. Joy comes from God’s grace and mercy.
We can be glad knowing God invites us through Christ into His loving, forgiving presence. Christ comes to us continually, into the dark places of our life – of the world. He brings His Grace and Mercy, His forgiveness, His light.
He brings healing to the broken hearted, binding up their wounds.
He comes with ‘Glad tidings of comfort and joy’.
2. Joy comes from being in Christ’s presence.
We can be happy and joyful knowing we have salvation of our souls through Christ, into eternity. The good news of great Joy is revealed in God’s love for us. His complete, fullness of Joy can be in us when we stay connected to Christ’s joyfulness with us in the midst of ordinary, daily living – the beauty and the brokenness.
There is a time for mourning and sharing in suffering. Jesus wept.
He catches every tear and is weeping with those suffering now.
May we soberly reflect with joyful anticipation on the presence of Christ coming to us, to those around us, into the most tender places of need.
3. Joy comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is jubilant Joy in the heart of the Trinity, the bearer of Joy, radiating Joy – true Joy. The Holy Spirit fills us with positive spiritual emotions and virtue: Love, joy, peace and hope. Open your heart to be filled with this Sovereign Joy, sustaining you to overcome the miseries and brokenness of this world. Live by the Joy of your God.
* The Jerusalem Community Rule of Life
4. Joy comes when you sing
Whoever sings, prays twice
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
Rejoice with heart and soul and voice
- Sing like you have never sung before.
Proclaim that God is good. He is our light and our salvation in this dark, broken world. Sing along with songs that lift your spirits, with Carols that keep you focused on the true meaning of Christmas.
- Watch this inspiring video of how the Opera Company of Philadelphia sang the “Hallelujah!” chorus in Macy’s – to spread the good news of Christ coming to us – of the true Christmas Spirit of Joy. Let this be an inspiration to you.
5. Joy comes when you are Thankful
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I honestly can’t even imagine.
There are no adequate words to say in situations of trauma and suffering.
But these few immediate thoughts come to mind.
You just never know what the day will hold.
So live your life carefully. Don’t waste any opportunity.
Hug those close to you and tell them you love them.
‘Gather rosebuds while you may’.
Try to live each day with no regrets.
I do know that gratitude and Divine Joy are connected.
God reminds us again and again in His Word to be thankful, sing with joy, find Divine Comfort and Joy in His Presence.
- Feel appreciation in your heart – evoking a positive emotional state that blossoms into contentment and Divine Joy.
- ‘Count your blessings’. Every day from now on, think of 3 things you are grateful for.
What are you most grateful for – now?
- Watch this inspiring video on gratitude. (If you watched this video already, watch it again as a reminder.)
Today – is the day given to you. It is a gift.
The only gift you have right now.
And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.
Cultivate that response
6. Joy comes when you are A Joy Spreader
Experiencing joy is contagious. It can spread like a virus.
Spread the ‘Spirit of Christmas Joy’
- Consider 12 things that bring you joy – that deep Divine Joy as a gift from God. Share these with others – with us.
- Bring Christmas Joy to someone who needs it.
Consider how God may use you to be a blessing to the needy and hurting by extending a hand of kindness, encouragement, generosity, gratitude and goodness.
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing — not healing, not curing … that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen
Christmas Blessings to you.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
May you make a difference in the beautiful,
yet broken world around you.