“Joy is nurtured, not by pretending everything is fine, but by holding our hope together with our grief, the good news with our sorrow, and naming both as reality. We practice joy because we are clear-eyed about our realities – all of them.”
Third Advent: JOY
Advent-joy feels different to me because it is in the midst of waiting.
“Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.” These are the words Paul writes to the church in Corinth (2 Cor. 6:10 NLT). An aching heart and a joyful heart are not opposites. Biblical joy is not circumstantial; it’s dependent on Christ. He is present in the midst of our suffering and our aching, and for that, we can have joy. Now, in this season of Advent, we wait, we ache, for Christ.
Waiting, joy, mourning… these are sacred spaces. The song “O Come O Come Emmanuel” dwells on these spaces—we can mourn our exile (more fitting the past two years than most, I imagine), but Christ is still coming! Christ has come! Just as the shepherds raced to seek out Jesus when they heard the “good news of great joy,” we can also rejoice at the birth of Jesus.
Rejoice! Advent is not a time of misery, but of joy! There is joy that’s going to come in the morning, and it’s all because of Christ. I challenge you not to throw off your mourning, but to nurture it with the joy and hope of Christ.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” God is with us—Immanuel—and God has come down to ransom us from our sin. There is nothing more worth celebrating.
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” …The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
-Luke 2:10-11, 15
(My brother-in-law Kristian helped sing this song, “As We Wait”, by Jenny Toews. “This song is an anthem for holding onto that Light and Hope while walking through dark places,” Jenny writes.)