Do you know that Advent isn't even mentioned in Scripture? Advent means coming, from the Latin word, Adventus. Yet, the idea of expectant waiting for the coming Messiah is certainly a Biblical theme! Think of Isaiah's message of the child who would be born and named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). And consider Simeon waiting for the consolation of Israel, or Anna, the prophetess, who was looking for the coming redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:25-38). Think also of the Wise Men who were expectantly waiting for the star to rise in the east, which would lead them to the King of kings.
In the third week of Advent we light the pink candle, the candle of joy.
Let's look now at three principles of Joy:
Joy evokes happy, pleasant thoughts. However, many people find themselves in the midst of sorrow during the Advent season. How then can they experience joy? The Apostle John wrote, "And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete" 1 John 1:4. John understood that to experience joy we must walk in the light, and be connected to Jesus, the giver of life (1 John 1:5-7). And unlike happiness, which depends on good things "happening" in our lives, joy is that deep sense of satisfaction knowing that God is in control; he will not abandon his children. In fact, he promises to work all things—our suffering and sadness, our losses, and even our failures—for our good (Romans 8:28); Jesus walks the shadowed and lonely paths of life with us.
Hope, represented by the first candle of Advent, is wrapped up in joy. And joy is wrapped up in hope! We can have hope because God is faithful to those he loves.
Advent is a time for joy. As we prepare to celebrate
the birth of our Messiah, we are also reminded that Jesus went to the cross for
the joy that was before him (Hebrews 12:2). Imagine that! Jesus found joy in
his suffering and death because he knew this sacrificial act of love would save
us from our sins! This Advent, whether we await the Savior's birth in sorrow or celebration, we can anticipate his eventual second coming with joyful hearts, knowing that he
was born to make peace with God for us and set the world right. Jesus pierced the darkness to give us a place in his eternal
Kingdom, beginning here and now!
Joy is God-centered and not dependant on our circumstances. Therefore, it is possible for believers to experience joy in the midst of sorrow. When we understand that no matter what is happening in our lives—the good, the bad, and the tragic—when we center our lives on Jesus, we can trust that our life story is in his hands. Whatever the situation we are in today, it will not always be so. Our joy is completed in God; we are citizens of his eternal kingdom.
Advent is surely a celebration of Christ's
first coming, but may it also compel us to live lives worthy of our Lord Jesus, eagerly and
joyfully awaiting his second coming (1 Thessalonians 1:10)!
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Let's pray: "May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope" Romans 15:13.
Copyright 2016 Sarah Keith
Teach children about Christmas JOY. Download the Holy Family Nativity Set to tell the Christmas story!
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