Lord Jesus Christ, help us to receive your joy with great expectation and sing new songs of your love and abiding presence.  For you have done great things for us, and great things are on the way.  Amen.  

One of the signature hallmarks of the Advent and Christmas season is that it is a time of celebration and joy. We sing joy-filled songs with enthusiasm, adulation, and praise.

We light candles, trim trees, and deck the halls of our homes and offices to invite a sense of goodness and cheer. We say merry Christmas, happy New Year, glad tidings, joy to the world—all expressions of happiness, delight, wonder, and hopefulness right smack in the cold of winter when we seem busier than ever.

We spend countless hours, energy, and money in pursuit of just the right gift because we know that the right gift at the right time for the right person(s) can make all the difference in the world. We long to see the expressions on their face(s) and how they respond knowing someone cares so much. “You are loved and of great value” is the message these gifts bring. And the giver also feels good.  Have you noticed that? How good it feels to give as well as receive? “My joy is made complete in your joy.”

Joy to the world the Lord has come…
Let men (and women too) their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains 
Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy! [1]

What if joy became our daily expectation rather than the exception?  And what might it mean to repeat the sounding joy of Christ’s love in our lives all year long?

Joy is a state of being that springs forth from a deep relationship with God. It transcends the present moment and bears witnesses to a future unseen, even unimagined. In the midst of chaos, mayhem, and confusion, we recognize another reality, another truth—and while it might be a ways off, we have confidence that it will come to pass as we declare our willingness to make it so.

Beloved, the joy of the Lord is our strength. It is what gives us courage to keep pressing our way in the world no matter what.

Let earth receive her King!  
Let every heart prepare Him room. 
And heaven and nature sing!     

Grace and peace,
Pastor Cathy

[1] Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World”, 1719. From The United Methodist Hymnal, © 1989 The United Methodist Publishing House, #246.