The Advent of Joy

We continue our celebration of Advent today with our third Advent candle: Joy. Each Monday we’ve posted a reflection on the weekly theme. We invite you to read the scriptures, say the prayer and meditate on the daily reflection with us on each day throughout the week as we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.

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In his new book, Shane Hipps talks a lot about joy. He says there are two kinds of joy. One is the kind of joy attached to “outside” circumstances. This is enjoying our job, a good movie, our children, etc. These are sources of joy and should be celebrated.

The problem with joy however, is it only lasts as long as the thing we attached it to. When the meal is gone or the movie is over, the joy attached to those ends. This does not make the experience of joy less meaningful. It is just passing.

But there is another kind of joy. It is a joy on the inside. One that attaches itself to the eternal. This joy reminds us no matter what happens in life, no matter how bad things get, we are going to be ok. Our circumstances, suffering and trials do not get the last word. This joy can celebrate in the midst of difficulties because it knows the nature of these struggles is passing.

Sometimes this joy is easier to access than others.

But Shane reminds us: “This joy is unwavering and independent of what happens in the outside world. Jesus came (Advent!) to help us access, uncover, and connect to this kingdom within.” (parenthesis added)

Scriptures

Zephaniah 3:16-17

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be,
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!
For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Psalm 16:5-11

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.

You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Romans 15:13

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 15:9-11

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

Prayer

We praise you with hearts of joy, O God
for you fulfilled your promise of a Savior.
Prepare our hearts to receive him again this day
and help us understand what he means in our lives.
Remove the sadness that hinders us
and fill us with the joy and hope that his presence bestows.
With joy we receive the gift of salvation
through the birth of your son, Jesus.
Fill us with your joy as we wait
and help us to see your glory
as you fill our lives with your Spirit.
Amen

Daily Reflections

Monday: Listen to and reflect on this song:

Tuesday: What are things that bring you joy? How do they point you towards Jesus? Thank him for each of them.

Wednesday: The second kind of joy Shane talks about comes from within. Spend some time in silence. Simple be aware that this kingdom actually resides inside of you.

Thursday: Think about any difficult circumstances you have in your life. Spend some time envisioning yourself bringing them to Jesus. Simply say: “This does not have the last word.” How does this shape how you see them?

Friday: Think of someone you know who is down or discouraged. Tell them this week how they are a source of joy in your life.

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