Advent Week 3: Joy

Advent Reading
Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 2:8-11

Do you remember what it felt like as a kid to wait for Christmas day to arrive? That feeling in your gut of eager anticipation. The weeks and days leading up to the big day could be agonizing. The night before Christmas, rolling over to look at the clock to find it’s only been five minutes since the last time you looked. But, oh how the sleeplessness turned to elation when we could finally leave our beds and celebrate around the Christmas tree. Christmas morning had arrived!

Do you remember that feeling? It was magical, right? Maybe you find yourself experiencing that even now, or through the eyes of children, or maybe you spend the month of December trying recreate that that special feeling you once had.

I remember one Christmas in particular. We lived out in the country, and I could hear outside my window that my neighbors had gotten an ATV for Christmas. I was excited at the idea of playing with them later and hopefully going for a ride. As we opened our gifts that morning, the gifts seemed to be a little less fun than in Christmases past, mostly clothing and few toys (that’s terrible, I know).

As my brother and I were handed our last gift, I could tell it was another article of clothing by the box it was in. I cringed on the inside and thought, “Well at least we can go play with the neighbors’ gifts in a bit.” (Don’t judge me, I was a kid.) As we opened the boxes, we each received a Kawasaki print shirt. My dad said, “I know you hear the neighbors riding on their ATV, but this was the best we could do.” I’m sure we smiled and gave a half-hearted “thank you” in return.

Then my dad stepped into the next room and, with a “just kidding” smile on his face, returned with a new Kawasaki dirt bike. Needless to say there was much rejoicing. (In retrospect this is proof that God has a plan for our lives because I had many opportuni- ties to lose mine on that motorcycle...but that’s another story for another devotional).

I realize now as a believer that these happy memories and feelings pale in comparison to the joy we have in Christ. This week of Advent centers around joy. The joy of Israel at the coming of the Messiah, the joy we have in Christ coming into our lives and the joy we will experience when we see Jesus face to face someday. Christmas is a season of pure joy surrounding the coming of a perfect, holy Savior given so we might be redeemed. What a gift indeed!

So, what has your Christmas experience been? Eager anticipation and happy mornings, or perhaps something different altogether. Maybe unfulfilled expectations or even sadness.

Whether our past experiences are good or bad, God is redeeming all of it. The One the angels heralded with “good news of great joy” is making all things new (Revelation 21:5). Are we building our celebration of Christmas on past feelings or present truth? As you continue through this season of Advent, make room for the great joy that God has for you in knowing Jesus and being known by Him. Allow your celebration to begin and end with Jesus, and experience the true joy and wonder of Christmas.

Christmas Songs of Joy
Joy to the World - Chris Tomlin from Glory In the Highest My Soul Magnifies - Chris Tomlin from Glory In the Highest

Pray for Joy
Pray that you would experience the joy of your salvation as you walk through this Advent season. That God would help you comprehend the “good news of great joy” that the angels brought to the shepherds. Pray also for the opportunity to share the joy of the Lord with others as you gather with friends and family this season.

Celebrate Joy
Plan an activity that you and your family enjoy doing during Christmas and put it on the calendar this week. While you’re doing this activity start a conversation about what you enjoy about doing this. Begin asking questions about how God might be using or redeeming this activity to bring Him glory. (Example: picking out gifts to take to the Care Center Christmas Store might lead to conversation about God’s gift to us in Jesus, or how God works in and through us to bless others.). This could be a way that you might allow Jesus to begin redeeming future conversations and activities.