This week, we light the candle of JOY as we mark the time remaining before we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
I have spent quite a bit of time over my life contemplating, studying, and wrestling with the meaning of the word "joy". Since the word is also my first name, I wanted to understand it and to live it out in my life.
For the Christian, the word "joy" takes on a new meaning. When you look up the definition of "joy" in the dictionary you will find on definition of, "a state of happiness or felicity". This rings a little empty to me. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is dependent upon outside circumstances. I think this is what the wold thinks of as joy An alternate meaning in the dictionary is, "the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires". This definition comes a little bit closer to what the Christian experiences.
You see, advent reminds us of the long period of waiting that the people of God endures before the Messiah was born. 400 years of silence existed between the last prophecy about Christ and hi birth. That is extreme waiting! Put yourself in the shoes of God's people. They had heard the foretelling of a Messiah who would come and rescue His people. But as the years and the generations and decades and centuries passed with...no...more...word...some had to begin to wonder if the prophecies were real. This is the "Silent Night" that the angles broke into and proclaimed, "TODAY...today!....yes, right now! in the town of David, A Savior has been born to you! He is the Messiah, the Lord!"
The deep emotion this announcement would have evoked runs MUCH deeper than simple "happiness". This was a rescue! A Redeemer had finally come! The waiting was over!
For us today, when we meet Christ in a personal way, when we invite Jesus to be our personal Rescuer, Redeemer, Savior...MESSIAH, we are washed with a soul cleansing, head-to-toe, contented, freeing JOY! Advent reminds us to remember this feeling. Don't get lost in the hustle and bustle. STOP. Breathe. Remember the silence. Remember the exuberance! Remember the JOY!
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their folks 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. This will be a sign to you" You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly hosts appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest hevean, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."