An Advent Reflection for December 13, 2015, the Third Sunday of Advent

I trust your Christmas plans are coming together nicely! I pray, as well, that you have been able to embrace the hope and peace of Jesus this season!

Sunrise Upstate New YorkAt our worship gathering two Sundays ago at Valley Life Church, we kicked off this season of Advent with the carol Joy To The World. Joy is clearly a strong theme of Christmas. The question, though, is “What brings us joy at Christmastime?” Is it gifts, seasonal events, the cheerful atmosphere, or could it be something deeper?

The LORD your God is in your midst…
He will create calm with his love;
he will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, CEB)

The passage above is a segment of a larger foretelling of the coming of Jesus as Messiah. The passage below is an admonition of the apostle Paul, but they both contain key truths to joy.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
(Philippians 4:4-5, NIV)

Joy is an existential reality. It comes from a place of security, knowing that you are loved and a looked upon with joy from those who are close to you. God’s love for us is not just providential or sacrificial; it is also lavish and joyful! It’s upon this foundation of God’s love that Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord and be God’s expression of love in our world. Rejoice! The Lord, in and through us, is near!

My prayer is that we experience God’s love that overflows toward us in unrestrained joy, I pray, as well, that this joyful love empowers us to love one another deeply and joyfully!

Grace and peace,

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