As I’m sitting here writing this next to my beautifully lit Christmas tree, it’s currently the 3rd Sunday in advent. Tonight, we’ll light our joy candle.
At my small group over the past few weeks, we discussed everyone’s different traditions for advent. Some did the traditional advent wreath with four colored (Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love) and then a single Christ candle. Others did a wall hanging advent calendar, where each day you counted down and maybe even received a special treat. This year I wanted to do a modern advent wreath. So naturally, I headed to Pinterest to get some ideas.
Mine has four thick white candles, each wrapped in a burlap ribbon. I attached chalkboard signs with the indication of each candle, and surrounded the candles with a wintery pinecone cranberry garland. It’s set on top of a marble cake platter and is currently the centerpiece of our large dining table. I love the conversations it has sparked with guests; but more importantly, the conversations the focused, reflective devotionals have sparked between my husband and me.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the Christmas chaos… the countless holiday events, ugly sweater parties, cookie exchanges, white elephant & secret Santa gift swaps, and gift buying frenzies. It’s been nice to sit and refocus, remembering what this season is truly all about. Tonight, we light the joy candle, and reflect.
It’s hard to remember the last time I was truly joyful. I’m a generally happy, positive person. But when was the last time I truly exuberated joy? I’ve heard the difference between happiness and joy described many ways, but this is one of my favorites: Happiness is an emotion that can disappear as quickly as it comes, but Joy is a choice. Happiness can be taken from you: A bad day at work—whoops you’re not happy. Somebody cuts you off in traffic—nope, not happy anymore! But joy is unconquerable.
“Then the angle said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people’.” (Luke 2:10) Joy is taking comfort in the fact that no matter what cruddy things life throws at you in 2017, God holds your future in his hands. It’s hoping in His plan. It’s knowing that Jesus has paid the price of our sins and resting in His good works. Joy is knowing that Emmanuel, God is with us, when the rest of the world may be against us. “The Lord is my strength and my shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm28:7)
Praying you are able to find Joy in this Christmas season and in 2018.