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Advent: Joy

Great Joy for All

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the “Shepherds Candle,” and it represents joy:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (Luke 2:8–11, ESV)

The angel of the Lord appears to shepherds who are on the night shift tending their sheep.  This majestic messenger comes, surrounding them with the “glory of the Lord” Himself and announcing “good news of great joy…for all the people”.  The message is simple yet deeply profound…”Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

How is this possible?  How can God bring great joy for all people, especially people who were oppressed, bent low by Roman occupation and oppression?  On top of this, the way He came…born as promised to Mary and Joseph, wrapped and lying in a manger of all places.  The Son of God…so humbly He comes, yet so boldly He announces His arrival to bring the best news ever given or received.  He comes to bring salvation to every person who will turn to Him in faith and repentance.  Still a mystery beyond our comprehension and yet so gladly we receive Him!

True joy is something we learn to receive from God alone.  Jesus Himself reminds us of this in John 15:1-11:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

For those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is produced through us as we live our life connected to the “true vine”.  This joy is promised in Galatians 5:22-23:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

May you and I be reminded this Advent season to pause, reflect upon, and receive the incredible gift of God’s joy.  May His joy be in you and I, and may our joy be full!  May we share this joy genuinely throughout each sphere of our influence much like the shepherds must have throughout Bethlehem and the surrounding hillsides!

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