Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy of Christmas

What is joy? It is a sense of clarity in the confirmation of the transcendent presence of God is with us. It is the clarity of the recognition that Joy is outside us, based in the existential connection to God through the Holy Spirit. At Christmas time many churches light Advent candles. Traditionally this candle is the third lighted and it alone is rose or pink colored, representing waiting with expectation for the coming of the Son, Jesus. The color begins to tell us of the blessed hope of the One who came to earth to show us the way and die for us that we might live. This is the ultimate paradox of Christmas and Easter that God, the “Light of the world” needed to die for us that we might live. But He also rose to eternal life that we might be raised as well in the end. This is the Joy of Advent and Good Friday that non-Christians will not understand.

James, Jesus brother wrote, “Consider it pure joy when you come into trials of diverse kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance which must finish its work so that you may be mature and compete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). This too is a Christian paradox, that trials are the way to complete peace with God. This is about becoming holy for He is holy. We cannot do this except through accepting His gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins bringing us the joy of His righteousness.  This too is a paradox.

I have led a grief support program called Griefshare for a number of years, helping people deal with the death of a loved one. The logo for the group is “Your journey from Mourning to Joy.” Several bereaved people ran from the group in disbelief that such a concept would even be conceivable. It is Christ in us the hope of glory that brings joy and peace. Throughout Scripture, particularly the Psalms, we are reminded to shout for joy and to sing songs of joy. “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13). He is talking about those going through great adversity. God alone can do this. Time does not heal everything, but God does if we trust in Him.

So go light your candle of hope in a dark room and watch the instantaneous brightening of everything. Don’t put your candle under anything, but let it so shine that others will be able to see and praise God joyfully.
Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her King!

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.