Advent 3 - Joy

life of jesus Dec 24, 2023

Welcome to Advent 2024, as we focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season.

A couple of days ago was Hope. Then Love, and today the word is Joy.

Joy is a word that is splashed all over the story of the first Christmas. And beyond.

It begins with the angel Gabriel telling Zechariah that his son, who will be John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah, "will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth" (Luke 1:14).

When the pregnant Mary visits Zechariah's wife, the baby in Elizabeth's womb "leaped for joy" (1:44) at the presence of the unborn-Messiah.

In Mary's Magnificat, she declares "my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (1:46).

When John was born, "her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy" (1:58).

Following the birth of Jesus, the angel declares to the shepherds, "I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord" (2:10-11).

Think of the songs we sing this time of year:

Joy to the World!

Ode to Joy - Joyful! Joyful! We adore thee! All thy works with joy surround Thee. (From Handel's Messiah)

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come to us, O Israel!

Angels we have heard on high - Why your joyous strains prolong? Gloria in excelsis Deo

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Oh tidings of comfort and joy)

You know it's Christmas when I'm listening to Mannheim Steamroller, Pentatonix, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. (If you're not familiar with any of them, there's this thing now called YouTube. I highly recommend it!)

When our baby girl was born (44 years ago), I was the choir director at our church in Kingston, a partner in a music business, euphonium player in our church band, and a drummer in a Christian rock band. When she was born, it was only natural that we name her Melodie Joy!

I had the opportunity to sing with Calgary Choral for a couple of years, before it became Revv 52. One of our concerts was focusing on Christmas music, and for me, the highlight was "Joy To The World," with the arrangement from Sister Act II. What a great example of enthusiastic joy! Like this - Sister Act 2 (Finale) Lauryn Hill - Joyful Joyful With Lyrics (Ft. Whoopi Goldberg) - but without as much dancing, and I don't remember the rapping. But you get the idea.

These have been very challenging times for so many of us. Some have been affected greatly and deeply with what has been happening in our world, while for others, it's been more of an annoyance.

The thing is, we all get to choose how we respond to what happens to us. I like the concept of responding, and not just reacting. Think it through - and choose to respond with joy, even when you are in the middle of confusion.

When Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples, knowing that he is about to be arrested and go to the cross, he tells them, "You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices (because of my death). You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy… Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" (John 16:20,22). And sure enough, when the women visited Jesus' tomb to find it empty, they were "afraid yet filled with joy" (Matt. 28:8).

And Chris Tomlin sings, "Joy to the World! Unspeakable joy!

To be honest, I have trouble separating joy from music!

So finally, I had the pleasure seeing Lincoln Brewster - one of the most amazing guitar players I've ever heard - in concert a few years ago. Please check out Lincoln Brewster - Miraculum (Instrumental) [Live]

 My prayer for all of us is that we would know joy.

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