For hundreds of years the church has anticipated the coming of Jesus during the season of Advent. The third week of waiting for his arrival invites us to receive his joy. The angels announced to the shepherds the good news of Jesus’ birth that would bring “good news of great joy to all people. (Lk 2:10).
During Advent we celebrate the joy that Jesus offers by coming into the world to save humanity and all creation. Through Christ our longing for a loving relationship with God and one another is fulfilled, leading us into the kingdom of God.
Joy is essential to the Christian experience. This doesn’t mean we don’t grieve over the pain and suffering of life. It does mean we don’t take our feelings of sorrow over the state of the world or our lives as the whole measure of reality. We also anticipate joy on the day when Jesus will return again and his kingdom will bring in a time of unhindered relationship with God and others for eternity. While we wait for Christ to come again, we don’t have to despair. God has given us a joy that no one can take away.
True joy is not based only on our feelings that waver depending on the situation in life we find ourselves. True joy and being able to rejoice always (1 Thess. 5:16) is a gift that comes from Christ. True rejoicing is knowing, trusting, and celebrating Christ’s presence with us always. If he is with us, then we can indeed rejoice, because no matter what happens, Christ will see us through it.
Our relationship to joy is not passive; it is a deliberate, active decision we make. Henri Nouwen said it this way: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice…
The Lord is near (Phil 4:4-5).”