Joy: The Third Candle of Advent
This Advent season I’m challenging those of us in ministry to take a few minutes each week to let God work in us, so that we can create moments for Him to work in others. Use this reflection on your own, with your family, or with your youth group as a way to re-center and focus in the midst of your busy week.
Passage for reflection: Luke 1
(If you’re reflecting with family or youth group, you may wish to choose selected passages from these chapters to read together)
Every year as we tell the Christmas story, there’s always a lot of speculation about Mary. She might have been teenage when the angel appeared. She was probably scared. Maybe her friends and neighbors threw her some serious shade as she carried on in submission to God’s plan.
But one thing which needs no guesswork is Mary’s attitude about the whole thing. In Luke 1 we read a whole song about it. “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she declares, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (vs 46-47). We don’t hear about the bloating or the cankles, the fears about traveling in the late months of pregnancy, or the opinions on laying a newborn in a feed trough. All of those things were real, legitimate problems. But Mary’s response to God pronounces boldly that true joy is not dependent on our circumstances. Actually, it’s dependent on our faith.
You’re probably living out some obedience to God’s call right now. Have you been missing the joy in that lately? This week, just for a little while, set down the annoying inconveniences in your path– the frustrating situations, the obstinate attitudes, and the nagging worries. You serve the Mighty One. And out of surrender and obedience, believe it or not, comes joy.
As you light the three candles for Advent this week, invite each person present to name something that gives them deep, heartfelt, can’t-explain-it-but-just-have-to-feel-it joy.
Here are three questions to get you thinking and talking about joy:
- Which character’s response in Luke 1 challenges or inspires me most? Why?
- When did I last hear God calling me to do something? What did it feel like when I said “yes”?
- Who has inspired and encouraged me on my journey?
Three ways to share joy with others this week:
- In our culture, a baby on the way means a party. If you’re not up to your ears in event planning, why not have an impromptu pre-Christmas celebration? Surprise someone you love with the unexpected joy of hot chocolate (with sprinkles!), a cruise around the neighborhood Christmas lights, or a pj dance party.
- Fill your playlist with songs you love and surround yourself with uplifting music throughout the week. Better yet, share it with someone else.
- Write a letter to thank someone who has encouraged or inspired you in your spiritual walk. It’s surprising how much joy we can experience when we give it away.
Rachel Dodd is Director of Youth Discipleship for Kent UMC in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and an MDiv student at Fuller Theological Seminary. She and her husband Carl have been serving churches students and families in England and US for over 15 years, and have two daughters who keep life full of sparkles, adventure, and coffee.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.