Over the years, I have learned joy isn’t just excitement or pleasure, though these feelings are a part of joy.

This week’s Advent candle, joy, may seem a counterintuitive emotion given today’s world. 

take joy

But, like hope and peace, joy comes by God’s grace, helping me see why God gave His Son. 

It isn’t hardwired into my heart; joy is part of a gift — a gift some days I am too busy to unwrap.

That’s where worship, fellowship and Scripture are blessed sight restoratives, reminding me that unwrapping joy means: get over thyself!  (Some days hard to do for a seasoned citizen.)

Worship: A Definition of Joy and a Reason for Joy

First, during the morning worship service, the preacher defined joy as overwhelming gratitude to God for Christ. 

Now, I do better when I remember and practice gratitude — and not just tepid gratefulness; but profuse, immense, inordinate  . . .  and no, that’s not always how I am. I am still such a work in progress; a real leaky vessel. 

Second  in another service, I discovered a reason for joy and rejoicing — and being willing to keep plugging the leaks. 

There, the guest preacher, Stephen Atkinson, referred to Psalm 67 in an evening worship service.*

He pointed out that when this Psalm was first sung, the nations were not praising God. Back then, only a handful of humans back then knew God was who He is. 

Formerly from Ireland from,  Pastor Atkinson, said three thousand years ago his people “were dancing around stones.”  I guess some of mine were, too.

Three millenia later,  how many nations — people within their borders — praise God?

The past week felt like darkness  is enveloping all I know; worship reminds me LIGHT is overcoming.  

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Take Joy — eh?

Fellowship Encourages Gratitude

Spending time with Christians who serve in places to which I can’t imagine going  enlarges my gratitude and stifles my contrariness. ( Please Don’t Send me to Africa!)

We spent time with visiting missionaries — about our age and stage — who are returning to Uganda to serve. That was a reality check. 

take joy

If we have a pulse in the USA, there is always something for which we may be grateful

They described their work: partnering with Ugandan churches in Christian community development and reconciliation ministries.  Their desire is not just to plant the seeds of Gospel hope, but to enable local Christians to farm the fruit of God’s Spirit. 

They are returning not to a nation that existed when Psalm 67 was first sung — but to a people whom God had in mind when He gave His Son. 

Let this be recorded for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created will praise the LORD. (Psalm 102:18) 

Scripture—A Repository of Joy 

take joy

timely advice from our granddaughter’s Bible

Scripture is a repository of joy for leaky vessels.

Luke and Matthew’s accounts of Christ’s first coming are just the tip of the iceberg describing how Christ came.  

And why; from  Isaiah 11, and Revelation 12 — we may  refresh, replenish, renew our weary hearts and know joy.  

Joy, then, to this heart-breaking, hurting, crazy old world— to you dear reader and to me. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Take joy . . . It’s smack dab in front of us . . . knocking . . . 

christ at the door

The Light of the World (1851–1854) by William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) representing Revelation 3:20:

Advent reminds me Christ came to seek the lost  and care for the wounded; now through the care of His people. He is our hope, our peace and our joy. 

Lord, I believe — help me with my doubts. (Mark 9:22-29 )

the work of Christmas

from the Garden of Bright images


*Hear the sermon,  Slow Train Coming 

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