Welcome to the Sunday devotion. This is the third Sunday of Advent and on this day we light the candle of Joy. If I would ask you if you feel joy today, or happiness, what would be your answer? Do you differentiate between the two? I see a big difference. Let’s take a deep breath and clear our minds and light our own virtual candle of Joy.
When reflecting on happiness versus joy, think of an example of when you have felt happiness. I’m happy when my favorite baseball team wins. I’m happy when I put dinner on the table and the food is warm and good. What makes you feel happy?
Happy is good, but joy is better. There’s a deeper sense of love, peace and comfort that surrounds joy. I feel joy when my sister tells me her doctor says she is cancer-free. I feel the depth of our relationship. I feel joy when my family is together and enjoying each other’s company. Last night 3 of the 4 “kids” were playing on their video system together. They are together because it makes them happy. More than that, they are together because it gives them joy. What makes you feel joy?
So let’s take a deeper look at joy. One of the very obvious differences between happiness and joy is that happiness tends to be achieved externally, while joy is something achieved internally. For example, we can feel happy when we receive something like a gift or achieve something like awards or honors. Joy, on the other hand, is something deeper. It is something we feel internally in our lives as human beings. Happiness can come and go depending on the circumstances of your day. But joy, pure joy, is deep like a well of cool water. How would you describe joy?
As we travel through the preparation for Christmas and experience once again all the wonderful carols we sing in celebration of Jesus’ birth, the true meaning of Christmas is reborn within me. And there is no better Christmas song that goes deep into my soul to express that joy than “Joy to the World”. Every finale should be “Joy to the World”. The complete picture is in this carol. “[Let] heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n and nature sing, and heav’n, and heav’n, and nature sing.” There is such complete joy. All the earth celebrates Jesus’ birth. In the 2nd verse the image of all the earth celebrating Jesus’ birth continues, expanding in depth and detail, saying, “while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy!” Can you imagine the immense echo rebounding over and over. In Christ Tomlin’s “Joy to the World” I love the phrase, “unspeakable joy”. You can listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC3SwhJsLqU
I pray that the joy of the season seeps deep into your soul. Reach for it. Soak it in. And watch it glow from within as you ponder on the joy and wonder of Jesus, the baby in the manger, come to save the world.
Author: Bonnie Barber
Various authors throughout the Chesapeake Bay Mission Center and beyond provide these thought-provoking weekly devotions.