Third Week in Advent: Joy
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Arise, shine, Jerusalem, for your light has come; and over you the glory of the Lord has dawned. Though darkness covers the earth and dark night the nations, on you the Lord shines and over you his glory will appear.” --- You will see it and be radiant with joy, and your heart will thrill with gladness. Isaiah 60:1-2, 5a (REB)
In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind. John 1:4
Isaiah prophesied that the “Light” of the Lord would come to Israel, and for those whose eyes were open to see, believe, and accept it, there would be great joy and gladness. Unfortunately, many of the Israelites did not see or accept this Light. For those who did see and respond, they did so with great joy. Many spent their lives spreading the Good News to their world, which fulfilled the prophecy (Isaiah 42:6b, 10a) that the Light was destined “to be a light for peoples, a lamp for nations” and that a “new song” would be sung to praise the Lord throughout the world.
Joy has been present from the time the Light came into Mary’s womb. John the Baptist, also in womb, leapt for joy at the presence of Christ (Luke 1:44), and this was followed by Mary’s song of joy (the Magnificat; Luke 1:46-55). Great joy was expressed by the angel who announced Christ’s birth as well as the multitude who sang (Luke 2:10-14), and by the three wise men who followed the Light (Matthew 2:9-10).
For the Christian, joy is part of the harvest of the Spirit (Galations 5:22) and is inspired by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We have joy because of our salvation, as expressed by David in Psalm 51, by Christ (Luke 10:20) and by Peter (1 Peter 1:8-9). There is joy in fellowship and encouragement (Philippians 1:25-26), in comfort and consolation during troubles (2 Corinthians 7:4-7), in giving and generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-4) and even in persecution where we have been found worthy to suffer because we are Christians (Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:40-41.
Joy should be a noticeable characteristic of Christians and one that attracts nonbelievers to Christ.
Prayer: Lord, create in each of us a joyful spirit that will draw others to you. Amen.