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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 . . .
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 )
*Hear the sermon, Slow Train Coming