The Advent Season - Week 3
“Joy to the World,” the Christmas hymn written by Isaac Watts, is based on Psalm 98. In Psalm 98, the psalmist exhorts all the earth to joyfully sing and make noise to the Lord before he comes to judge the earth. The hope of this Psalm is that in all of life, whether in plenty or in want, we would lift our voices to praise the Lord for our salvation and his steadfast love. A number of theologians see a close parallel between portions of this Psalm and Mary’s song in Luke 2:46-55. There Mary, after receiving word that she would give birth to Jesus, rejoices in song for the victories of her of God, her Savior. Her response in verse 37 to this news was to state that “nothing is impossible with God.” Her second response was to tell the good news to her friend Elizabeth. Her third response was to sing a song of praise just as the writer of Psalm 98 instructs us to do.
Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit represent defining characteristics of followers of Christ. In terms of joy, Scripture calls us to express joy for our salvation, joy in our relationship to the Lord, joy in our interactions with each other and even gives us an example of how to have joy in our suffering in Romans 5. Unfortunately, in the realities of everyday life, this fruit of the Spirit is often replaced with something other than joy. In a sermon several years ago, I heard a preacher say that the key to not having joy ripped away each time stressful events happen is to begin to understand joy not as an emotional response that you pull out only for good news. Instead, he said, we should spend more time learning to embrace joy as a lifestyle. The pastor ended his thought by stating that embracing joy as a lifestyle enables us to more effectively embody the joy of Christ to the world in which we live.
As you read through the scriptures for the third week of Advent, my encouragement to you is to not only reflect on the joy that Christ brings to the world, but also on the joy you bring to the world as a follower of Christ.
Week 3: Joy
Sunday, December 15: Luke 1:39-45
Monday, December 16: Luke 1:46-56
Tuesday, December 17: Luke 2:8-21
Wednesday, December 18: Matthew 2:1-12
Thursday, December 19: Psalm 98
Friday, December 20: Jeremiah 31:10-15; Isaiah 35:5-10
Saturday, December 21: Psalm 30; 1 Peter 1:3-9