Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:9-11, NRSV)
The promise of joy comes through the Angels at Jesus’ birth, and towards the end of Jesus’ life, through his own words:
I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing. (John 15:11, Amplified Bible)
Jesus desires to give us joy. His joy!
Almost every morning I check my online Enneathought, a daily insight using the Enneagram model of transformation based on nine personality types. Yesterday I read, “As a Five, you most need to learn to appreciate that life is a joy and that the universe is benevolent.” I was immediately challenged: what would it be like to live as if I really believed that “life is a joy and the universe benevolent”? How often I live guarded and cynical trying to protect myself from hurt and disappointment.
I am kept from joy when I keep myself from entering life fully. For right in the midst of the most ordinary moments of my life, joy sparkles. Like Hope of Advent Week One and Peace of Week Two, Joy also comes as gift… bubbling up from a source deep within and beyond me. It seems less a transient feeling of happy thoughts, and more a Holy Truth, a Divine Attribute, which Jesus comes to share with us.
I cannot create or force joy, but I can choose to see and receive. I enter into God’s joy as I choose to notice love and beauty in God’s creation. I enter joy when I am silent and still enough to hear the whispers of God in my spirit. I enter joy when I let go, and fall into LOVE.
The root of joy is gratefulness…
It is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Being grateful is foundational for being more joyful. It’s as if we are a garden and moments of gratitude are the seeds that grow and sprout into joy.
What brings you joy this Advent season? (Please share in the comments as you are led.)
For me, recent moments of joy have been:
- having a child’s heart of wonder as I drive through dark streets, sparkling with Christmas lights: “Wow… wow… wow…”
- snuggling with my 6-year-old granddaughter Grace, sharing private jokes
- baking Christmas cookies (recipes handed down from my mom and her grandmother), listening to Christmas music, and chatting with a picture of my mother and brother – both now deceased – on the kitchen counter beside me.
- my first early-morning cup of strong, fragrant coffee, and sitting in the stillness and quiet beside our beautiful, wild, and unwieldy Christmas tree (still without lights or decorations).
An invitation for prayer this week:
Set aside some time each day this week to listen to the music below, with an open heart to receive God’s gifts in this third week of Advent.
You may wish to search on youtube for other versions of this beautiful hymn. There are many. But I was drawn to the dazzling winter images in this one. (You might like to click on the YouTube button to fully enjoy the lovely winter pictures).
Although we are all very familiar with the amazing Bach version of this hymn, here are some of the original lyrics which were written by Martin Janus in 1661:
1 Jesus, joy of our desiring,
holy wisdom, love most bright;
drawn by thee, our souls aspiring
soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
with the fire of life impassioned,
striving still to truth unknown,
soaring, dying round thy throne.
2 Through the way where hope is guiding,
hark, what peaceful music rings;
where the flock, in thee confiding,
drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead thine own
in the love of joys unknown.