Posted by: morgan1965 | December 17, 2017

The Dimensions of Advent JOY

Advent is indeed a season of personal preparation to receive Jesus anew in one’s heart and one’s spiritual life. It is a season of expectation; expectation that the Christ Child will be born as a gift to all people. This season of the Christian year, however, requires the pilgrim disciple to wait. Waiting, of course, requires an abundance of patience.

Little children, perhaps, are waiting for Santa Claus who they expect to fulfill the wishes on their Christmas list. Teenagers are perhaps wondering how much cash they will receive in their Christmas envelope. Will there be sufficient funds to purchase their most desired thing(s)? Adults are waiting too; but, what are the adults waiting for at Christmas time?

Children who receive gifts at Christmas time are filled with happiness. Teenagers are very happy when they receive a generous amount of cash or a gift card for their favorite store. Often, adults are grateful for whatever gifts come their way, but also find great pleasure in observing the happiness exhibited by the children and teenagers in their life.

An important component of Advent is joy; so, we light the candle of joy on the third Sunday. Joy can be defined as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” Isaac Watts describes Advent Joy in his hymn, “Joy to the World:”

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing…”

Jesus is our most precious gift, because God gave us God’s son. That gift fills the heart with joy.

What is the nature of Christian joy? Paul in the letter to the “Hebrews” said this about joy: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) We see here that Jesus had joy in his life. We too want to have joy in our life, in the good times and the difficult situations.

In the Advent Season, we light candles. First, we light the candle of hope, even in the midst of death, destruction and seeming hopelessness. Second, we light the candle of love which engenders the warmth of renewal and restoration. Third, we light the candle of joy, because Jesus makes us glad. The Joy Advent candle should be kept burning all year round. When we identify and express our gratitude, it becomes a manifestation of our joy. To acknowledge the joy in one’s life, enables a person to become more joyful and happy.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed.Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” (Denis Waitley) It is appropriate and meaningful for one to cultivate gratitude. What are the things in your life for which you are grateful?

One thing among others continues to bring joy to my heart. I am grateful for my doctors who did not stop asking questions until they determined what was the cause of my illness a few years ago. They did not give up on me, but gifted me with their quest for solutions. More than ever before, I give thanks for good and caring physicians. Looking back turns my heart to gratitude.

In what ways is the Christ child being revealed to you in this Advent season? Just how is Jesus acting in your life? The list of his actions brings joy when we take the time to identify the presence of Jesus in our life. I experienced the presence of Jesus recently when I visited a young stroke patient who is steadily regaining her health. At a recent funeral service, I recalled with thanksgiving and joy the life of a woman who had joined the church early in my pastoral tenure. She blessed that congregation, the community and her family with her abiding love and service during her 91 years of living.

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.

 For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5) [ESV]

Like little children, let us cultivate joy in our daily lives, and enter into the joy of anticipation as we relish Christ’s joy, acknowledging that we are waiting for him.

Let’s look for God’s joy on the journey. Start Looking!

 

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