Reflecting on the Third Week of Advent – The Joy Candle

Last week, our church lit the third candle of our advent wreath, the “Joy Candle.” Part of my Advent has been to celebrate and reflect upon the meaning of that candle throughout the week and blogging about it.

As we lit the Joy Candle, I remembered thinking what a dumb idea this was. It’s easier to walk around with hope and grace, you can look and be miserable but hey, you’re hanging on to hope and grace. We tend to think that being joyful should have affect your countenance and add a bounce in your step and parade around like your Will Farrell in Elf.

Many years ago, I used to think that joy was about “God making you happy” and spreading the “cheer” all around. But as it turns out, I had joy all wrong. I no longer think of joy as walking around with a cheesy smile on my face but more of a condition of the heart.

I’ve learned that true joy exists independent of our circumstances. For example, there are lottery winners that do not have joy and amazingly enough, you can find joy in the hearts of mourners at a funeral. For my purposes, I define joy as “the believer’s confidence in God.” If faith is the idea of “believing without seeing”, than joy is the by-product. It seems true to say that great faith tends to allow for great joy.

To borrow from the often quoted, C.S. Lewis, “Joy is the business of heaven.” It’s a great line, it’s a great sound byte and I’ve always been bothered that it isn’t always reflective of my heart and many in the Church. Frankly, some of the most joyless and miserable people I’ve met have been at church (in defense, it is a crazy place). And while I’m on it, I’d like to include a couple others crazy and joyless people/places – tv networks/personalities (it must be exhausting pretending on there) and the Costco free-sample people (what’s their excuse?).

 This past week, our Family Connections Ministry had a Christmas party. Everyone brought food, we made   Christmas wreathes to give away and we had kids do a variety/talent show. Kids are good at many things, and  among them is reminding us of what joy can look like. Their hearts aren’t jaded, and many of them are eager to    believe. Sorry to sound cliche here but I am among the many that find it so profound that Jesus held up the faith  of children as a great model of belief. We did our best to remind each other that night, that Jesus’ coming gives us joy and we ought to be faithful with such gifts.

For my fellow Christian sisters and brothers, we should be encouraged that no one can take our joy away. Secularism, the war on Christmas battle, those who hate on Tim Tebow, none of that can rob us of joy. Even more so, scarier things like unemployment, disease, the pain we see in our world cannot rob us of the joy that God gives. Instead of fighting the battles that don’t need to be fought, let us cherish the joy we’ve been given and share this joy with those in need this Christmas. Those in our homes, those in our workplaces, those in material or emotional poverty.

The message of Christmas is about God offering redemption to the world – there is great joy in that truth.

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