Sweet hymns of JOY in grateful Chorus raise we; Let all within us praise his Holy name!
On the third Sunday of Advent, in preparation for the coming baby-king, we light a third candle for joy.
To be transparently honest, joy is a challenging attribute for me.
I have a natural personality that people call “bubbly” or “smiley”. People are attracted to this but so often, for me, it is not all of who I am. Joyful feelings are not always a constant. I feel anxious. I wonder what people think of me. I get burdened by the ache of living in a tragically broken world.
A lot of time I think that it is easier to show people fake happy than it is to admit that maybe the joy isn’t quite real, that I am worried and anxious and heartbroken over the state of this world. No one wants to see that, right? There is already too much negativity out there. Just make it easier on everyone else, and fake it. That’s a fun lie to believe, isn’t it?
Fake happy is easier to generate than genuine joy. Joy at times feels fake, doesn’t it? Or stupid, in a way. Sometimes I feel like joy can only be achieved if one buries their head in the sand and becomes completely unaware of just how broken this world really is. In this sense, joy feels a bit naive.
In a world marked by cynicism and outrage, genuine joy is radical, rebellious and oh, so very necessary.
Those moments when I catch glimpses of joy in myself are magic: When I dance with my husband and he sings, changing the words to whatever pop song is on the radio. I glimpse joy in the first full-flake snowfall that covers the world in sparkling white. There is joy in seeing Christmas lights on the tree.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.- 1 Peter 1:8-9
Joy is the feeling of celebration in an Easter service after Good Friday when we let go of the refrain we held back for a few days: He is Risen! Joy- From Christmas to Easter. Birth, Death and Resurrection. There is joy in the old story, the story that is true most of all.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for ALL the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”- Luke 2:8-11, NIV
The Angels declared JOY to shepherds who would be thought crazy when they shared what they had experienced. That truth- to embrace joy because Emmanuel- God had come to be with us. And God is STILL WITH US.