Finding Joy

20151209_065633The countdown to Christmas continues. This week we light three candles on the Advent wreath.  The third candle—often pink—is called the joy candle. For anxious children three candles is good news. Only one more candle to light and then it will be Christmas!

Busy adults may not be as excited. Maybe the fast approaching Christmas gives stress instead. Maybe there is longing for someone who will not be at the table this year. Or concern for someone who is hurting.  Again news headlines are filled with anger-filled terrorists followed closely by hate-filled anti-Muslim rhetoric. There is no doubt that we need a word of joy this week.

In our Bible text, John the Baptist is in the wilderness proclaiming. It doesn’t sound too joyful either:  “You brood of vipers. Repent. Bear fruit.” Luke 3:7-18 John names the reality of brokenness, injustice, hatred, and sin. Like John’s listening crowd, we cry out, “What then shall we do?”

John’s answer points people away from themselves to others. “Share a coat or food. Be honest in your work. Be satisfied with your wages.” God’s kingdom breaks in when we live and serve with compassion, gratitude, and love. That is where true joy is found.

Being in need of some joy myself, I started looking for moments of joy.  Here’s what I found:

* The beginning of a friendship between a woman from India and a sweaty runner (me) as we talked and shared a hug at her daughter’s bus stop.

* The joy of laughter as gifts were wrapped by the youth for Good Shepherd’s “adopt a family”.

* The music of hope sung, danced, and played at schools, churches, and community centers this season.

*The pile of backpacks of food for hungry PEM children now being filled weekly thanks to the persistence of community members.

*The quick “I’d be happy to do that” response by Mark when asked to serve.

* The passion of teachers for their students.

*The compassion of a community caring for a wife whose husband died unexpectedly.

* The conversation between a mother and her young son at Shopko as they shopped for a child from the Giving tree.

*The lighting of one more candle on the Advent wreath as a little more light shines in the darkness.

What moments of joy do you see? They may not be big and flashy. You may not even feel particularly joyful. But in each of these moments, Jesus comes and that is where joy is found. So in faith and hope we proclaim and sing with the angels, “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.”

Let us pray:

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. Philippians 4:4-7

Find some joy with a couple of Pentatonix music videos:

*Mary Did You Know?:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifCWN5pJGIE

*Joy to the World:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xo64Q2ucQ8

 

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