Sunday, December 11, 2016
Luke 1:41-45 "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy."
These last few weeks I have offered a couple of posts that reflect on this season of the year that Christians the world-over call "Advent". Five Sundays in all are dedicated to remembering and reflecting on the 1st coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the reader's review, the first two Sundays of Advent were reflected upon and can be found in the following two links:
Today is the third Sunday of Advent and has a special theme attached to it: the theme of "joy". Many churches today utilize what is called an "Advent Wreath", which consists of three purple candles, one pink candle and a center white candle called "The Christ candle". The candle for the third Sunday of Advent is pink in color and is deemed the "candle of joy".
Joy is distinguished in the Advent season from the other candles due to the fact that in the midst of winter's long, growing shadows, the light of hope kindled by Christ's incarnation lights the way for the Christian. In the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke, we find wisemen celebrating, shepherds hastening back to tell everyone the joyous news of Messiah's arrival and major figures in the Advent accounts singing songs of praise. The long, dark shadows of oppression and despair had hung over Israel for centuries. The Jews longed for the coming of Messiah. History tells us that many pretenders came and went. To hear of cosmic signs such as a star appearing in the East, angels appearing and people mentioning the arrival of a King stirred the hearts of people in those days.
As time marches on for me in this 21st century world, I find the need for the joy of the Lord to be rekindled in my own heart. I find an oasis in Advent season. Such a season reminds me that all that matters in life is not defined merely by the possessions one has or hopes to have. I find at times my own soul grappling with shadows of sadness and the increasing groanings of this fallen world. Only in Christ do I find hope for this present life and the strength to hope for the world to come. Advent's joy is in Jesus.
The lighting of that third candle today will send a message. The shadows of despair will be chased away. Christ's partaking in the plight of humanity gives those who respond in faith the opportunity to commune God in His deity. Endless joy is available. The bread of life, the water of eternal life, Jesus Christ, came in the flesh. He came to offer Himself in His humanity as an atonement for sin. His glorious resurrection was a resurrection of physical, glorified humanity. His ascension means I have a human representative praying for me and a mighty God Who gives strength. Such wondrous, joyous news is the possession of all who by grace through faith respond to Him. May we celebrate the joy of Jesus this Advent season as we commemorate today this Third Sunday of Advent.