Advent Devotional: Friday, December 16

Kelsey Stillwell

Third Week of Advent: Joy
Friday, December 16, 2011

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed:  “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"  Luke 1: 41-45

What makes you smile?
-    A compliment from a friend
-    A good joke
-    Flowers in bloom
-    Presents under a lit tree

What makes you happy?
-    Being with family and friends
-    Working at a job that you love
-    Watching your favorite teams win
-    The spirit of Christmas

What brings you joy?

I don’t know about you, but for a long time I could not tell the difference between joy and happiness.  It was not until this past year that I came up with my own explanation as to why we find it hard to recognize joy.  Joy is God-given, and it is beyond happiness.  For me, joy makes me crazy!  Have you ever felt this kind of joy?  When you start crying, while smiling, for a reason you can’t explain.  When you feel like the only way to express yourself is to dance.  Or in my case, you start talking a mile a minute about things no one else understands.  Joy makes me look crazy.  Realizing this now, I admit that there have been times when God has given me joy but I have tried to hide because I know people will not understand.  Have you ever felt this way?  You wipe away the tears quickly so no one sees you crying.  You stand still, to keep from dancing.  Or you keep quiet so you don’t say anything that sounds absurd.  God’s gifts to us are, most often, unexplainable.  So why do we feel like we have to be able to explain ourselves and our actions to others?

When Elizabeth saw Mary she began screaming and speaking nonsense.  Her baby leaped for Joy?  She knew she was in the presence of a woman blessed by God?  She knew the child Mary was carrying was her Lord?  Elizabeth did not write these thoughts and feelings off as meaningless, but let her joy overwhelm her.  This is the kind of joy we find when we are in the presence of Christ.  When was the last time you let joy overwhelm you instead of hiding it from others?

So what brings you joy?
-    The sound of a congregation singing of God’s great love that brings you to tears.
-    The encouragement you feel when surrounded by friends that make you want to dance.
-    Or the miraculous story of a baby sent to save his people, a story so amazing that you have to share it with everyone you meet.

Let joy make you crazy!

Prayer:  Giving God, May I not be afraid to let joy, that only you can give, overwhelm me.  Open my eyes to the joy of the people around me.  Thank you for your perfect gift that brings joy to all that know Him.  Amen.