"Jesus is here, and His kingdom is available. Receiving the good news of Christ and His kingdom leads to great joy."
We were out on the Peace Bridge about a week ago praying for people and we got talking to a couple of students from Monaghan (well actually they were from Slovakia and Germany but they were staying in Ireland for a year). Anyway, we asked them what the dream was and they thought for a moment and one of them said, "happiness, I want to be happy, to make others happy."
There is something in us that wants joy, right? Maybe we don't understand what we're looking for or we call it happiness but I believe it's an inherent desire for something of life, something that God created us for. We are designed for celebration and joy.
God desires joy for you. The bible tells us that in His presence is fullness of joy. God's purpose for you involves joy. That's why I love when Jesus came to dwell among us as a baby it was announced with celebration through a choir of angels, they declared it as good news of great joy.
Luke 2:10-11 writes this, "And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord"
If you've been around life for any length of time you'll realise that there is a lot to take joy away. In fact, it's not easy to have joy. We search for it in all sorts of places - relationships, stuff, success, health, comfort - and some of these work for a time but ultimately they don't provide the deep joy we crave and when something crumbles - a relationship breakdown, our business fails, we run into debt, we are chronically ill - the joy goes pretty quickly. So, what do we do to hold to joy in these moments?
The bible tells us that Jesus is our joy. That his very presence with us in the midst of Chaos gives us access to joy. And the reign of Jesus brings joy. He wants to reorder our lives (our thinking, our bodies, our emotions, our behaviours and attitudes) around his way - the way of heaven. And the more we surrender ourselves to his way of doing things the more we'll experience his joy. It doesn't mean it will be easy but it will be worth it.
When we light the candle of advent, considering joy, let it be a physical symbol of the presence of Christ with us in this moment and the availability of His kingdom - which always leads to joy.