This is the second week of Advent. Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of JOY.
This week, we had the delight of witnessing the City of Charleston’s Christmas Parade. It was awesome and totally met our expectations. The parade route was filled with high school bands screeching out Christmas tunes, pickup trucks pulling decorated boats, brigades of Basset hounds and Dachshunds and the obligatory Christmas mermaids.
Numerous floats carried young teens representing various organizations as their “royal court”, complete with crowns and sashes. It became apparent that we were positioned toward the end of the parade route as these floats passed. Exhaustion was evident on their non-smiling faces as they robotically waved their regal hands. Float after float rolled past with sullen participants doing their best to hold their positions. Marching corps drug their feet while dancers did their best to rally their energy, but it was with obvious effort.
I get it, I don’t blame them, it was a long parade.
But then this happened…
As a particularly pitiful float with non-smiling royalty passed us by, we noticed they had acquired a stow away.
Jauntily perched on the back of the float was what appeared to be a homeless man we had seen in town earlier in the week. His smile was huge, his wave energetic, and he was radiating JOY. The crowd cheered, laughed and applauded him!
Sometimes my life is like that long parade route. I start of my day, week, month or year, full of energy, plans and expectations only to find myself weary, discouraged or disappointed. I try to seek happiness, display happiness and make happiness happen around me, but happiness is not sustainable. It is dependent of circumstances and things…and sometimes those are not as we had hoped.
Joy is different. It is a gladness in your heart that is not based on the things of the world. For believers, JOY is a gladness in knowing God. Joy gives us strength in difficult times, fills our heart when it aches and reminds us that this world is not our end game.
Happiness happens at the start of a parade, but JOY follows the entire parade route!
When the angel appeared to the shepherds to declare the birth of our Savior, he said it was “news of great Joy”. He did not say there would be a happily ever after. He did not pronounce that things would get better or be easier. The birth of Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection, brings us reason for joy. In Him we know love abundantly, grace without bounds and Hope for eternity with Him.
There is more to life than enduring the long parade route. Our Christmas Joy Rider certainly did not have optimal circumstances, but he hopped on board and took in all that was available to him in this moment. This season may we all take into our hearts the JOY that is available to us, the Joy of Knowing God through His Son Jesus Christ.
“And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today, in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10&11