This Sunday, we will be lighting the candle of Joy. What a week to focus on joy. Our small island has been hit with community spread of Covid-19 for the first time since the pandemic started. This has brought us back to a lock down mode where some high schools are closed, church’s can’t host in person services, workers who can are being encouraged to work from home, everyone who falls in the age bracket of 20-29 is being encouraged to get tested, sports are cancelled, visits postponed, shopping being discouraged unless it is essential. At first glance this appears depressing and joyless. We don’t know what is to come. Maybe more cases will pop up, maybe we will still be in lock down for Christmas, maybe Covid-19 will be in the hospitals, we don’t know and uncertainty is scary. But yet, we are focusing on hope, peace, and now joy!
So what is joy? Joy is more than happiness, it is more than a fleeting moment of emotion. Joy is much deeper. Joy is having peace in chaos, joy is holding onto hope when all hope seems lost, joy is staying grounded in our assurance of Christ. It is remembering that despite what is happening around us, Christ remains the same. In John 16:20-22 Jesus speaks of how he is going to leave but that he will come back again and the disciples don’t understand what he is saying. This is what he says:
20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
Jesus describes joy like childbirth, once the baby arrives everything else fades away because a never ending joy takes it’s place. This is the joy that Jesus promises us. A joy that can’t be taken away. When we remember the little baby that came on Christmas day and all that he did for us, we are filled with joy. John 15 actually tells us that when we obey Jesus’ commands we are loving him and when we are loving him we are filled with his joy. How incredible is it that we don’t even need to depend on ourselves for joy. It is a gift, a byproduct of loving Christ.
So yes, even though the world feels chaotic and Christmas isn’t the exact same, we can have joy. We can have abundant joy because Jesus still came. He still died on the cross to save us, and He will come back again! Joy isn’t a fleeting emotion but it is a choice, a choice to love Christ, a choice to focus on the cross, a choice to not let the world get us down but to trust the one who created the world. Today I am choosing joy and I hope you will too!
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.