Month: December 2018

Advent – Joy

What is it that brings you joy?

We use the word a lot, but it can mean a variety of things… I was joyful when my football team won… I was joyful that I got the results I needed… I was joyful when my favourite tv series was back on… I was joyful when I had a couple of weeks off school. BUT is that any different to using the word happiness? If it is just happiness, a simple emotion, then why do we consider it important at advent, or even Christmas?

As we enter our final few days of the term, we consider this concept of joy.

Within Christian teaching joy is so much more than happiness. Joy is one of the gifts of the spirit, something that we receive but also that we can share. Throughout the nativity story we see joy, Mary was filled with it, the angels sang of it, the shepherds rejoiced and the wise men searched for it. Is it something that only comes at Christmas though?

No… it starts there but it is available throughout everyday. We can look at the world through a lens of joy, and we can share joy with others. But we need to be like Mary, the shepherds and the wise men, willing to take the necessary steps to find it in the first place. Our thought for the week says

Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God

May this Christmas time be a time that you are able to find joy, and may that joy be available to you throughout the year.

Advent Hope

Have you written your list for Christmas?

What are you hoping for? Is it a specific gift? Or is it an enjoyable time with friends and family? Maybe it’s decent TV? Maybe a time of peace in the house?

The Church has now entered Advent. This is a time of preparation, not really the physicality of putting the decorations up, and buying and wrapping the presents but more about preparing our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season.

Each week in advent focuses on different parts of that preparation, and this week we are focussing on hope. Saint Augustine said

“Christmas is fast approaching. And now that Christ has aroused our seasonal expectations, he’ll soon fulfill them all!”

Throughout the Old Testament promises are made about the saviour that will be coming, it is a collection of stories of hope. As Christians we are able to look back and see those promises fulfilled. If those promises can be fulfilled then we can have a certain hope that all promises from God will be fulfilled. This is not the same as hoping that we will get everything on our list, or that we will have a nice time with family over the holidays, this is a hope that gives us confidence and strength. In the Psalms it says

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

How do you feel when someone makes you a promise and they keep it? How do you feel next time they make you a promise? That is what it can be like for Christians all the time as they hope in God.

So how can we use this to help us prepare for Jesus? Remind yourself of the promises given by God… that’s what Jesus has come to fulfil.

Prayer Thank you God that you have kept preparing us for Jesus, and continue to prepare for his return. Help us to prepare our hearts and minds in this season to welcome the Lord. Amen

Challenge: take some time each day to find promises of God from the Old Testament and make a note of the hope they bring to you