Advent reading for "Gaudete Sunday" (Gow-Day-Tay).
This week is the turning point in Advent for Christians, in the glow of the lights of Hope and Peace, this is the week we celebrate the Joy of Christ's coming...
We are using the familiar Advent hymn, "Joy to the World" and it's lyrics to formulate the wonder and joy we can experience this evening and this week. Joy to the World, a tradtional Advent hymn is one we have sung as a Christmas song since our childhood, but with little attention to what the words actually speak to. It is an Advent hymn, not a Christmas carol for this specific reason: Joy to the World was written as a celebration for Christ's Second coming, not just His first.
“Joy to the World the Lord is come. Let Earth receive her king!”
On this third Sunday of Advent, we light the Joy candle. It is a different color because it symbolizes our mood switching away from waiting and longing and instead into a state of preparing. We know Jesus is coming, and He is coming very soon. As we think about what it meant to the people when Christ came the first time, it helps us prepare for His return. He will not come as an infant again, but as a reigning King.
“Joy to the World, the Savior Reigns. Let men their songs employ!”
As Christians, we talk about Joy often, but yet we so often confuse it with a feeling. Happiness is a feeling, but Joy is always a choice. Mary and Joseph could have chosen to be frustrated and angry that there was no room for them in the inn, yet they found all that they needed in the stable. They chose to find the Joy that God offered them. The circumstances of their situation did not rob them of the joy of Christ coming.
How about you? Are there circumstances in life that rob you of the Joy Christ gives us each new day? The reason we sing these familiar carols is because their message rings true each year…
“Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, and Heaven and Nature sing.”
The picture of Joy in the Bible shows us that Joy is trusting when you want to doubt, like Joseph when he found out that Mary was pregnant. It is receiving when you want to reject, like Mary being so obedient to the will of God. And it is celebrating when you want to fear, like the Shepherds when the angel appeared.
And so it is always a choice, The Gospel offers us that choice. This Christmas season we pray that you will not only find the Hope of Christ and the Peace of Christ, but also the joy that He continually gives. The darkness after all is beginning to fade and the true light of the world is coming.
“He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove!”
*Light Candle While Reading this Scripture*
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
(Luke 2:8-15 NLT)
Thank you for the gift of your son to us. This Christmas season we pray that we would experience your presence in a new way, and the Joy only you give overflowing. We know that you are here, among us. Jesus, continue to guide us to yourself this season and always.
In your name, Jesus we pray, Amen.
Christ's Kingdom is bigger than our causes.