‘Tis the season of frantic preparation to manufacture joy. At our house, the halls are decked, the presents are wrapped, the spirits are stocked, and the anticipation of a houseful of guests has commenced.
By this third week of Advent, we are ready to light the candle of joy. We await ultimate news of the angels singing our Savior is born. On Sunday, the pink taper in the wreath will be lit.
Joy, as the emotion of great delight or happiness, is out of reach for many. Spiritually, we are awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promise. Practically, we are overpaying for an evergreen tree, missing loved ones past, working undesirable hours, using our credit cards, over scheduling ourselves, and searching for perfect gifts.
In this context, how can we choose joy? I believe, it is not in the preparations, but rather in the experiences.
Attend a Christmas concert or pageant — look at the joy in the faces of the performers. Turn the radio dial to holiday music and notice the bright and beautiful outdoor lights on your drive home. Notice the man in the Santa suit, and pause to remember a time when you believed. Bake just one handed-down goody recipe and remember the family member who made it for you with love. Write out cards or post a greeting on social media. Display the Nativity scene, or the nutcracker collection, or Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Joy is an expression of glad feeling, festive gaiety, or a state of happiness. We picture it loudly. Yet, we can rejoice quietly as well. Enjoy the early darkness in the evening with hot cocoa or apple cider. Cuddle with your softest blanket and watch your favorite Christmas movies.
Biblical joy is beyond the happiness offered by this season. It is more than an emotion. It is a state of being that finds its source in God. Biblical joy is gladness and contentedness flowing out of God’s mercy.
Christians have joy, because they anticipate a time when Jesus comes to the world. While, we acknowledge joy on Sunday, Christians also know to carry joy throughout the year.
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines … Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk, 3:17-18.