First Presbyterian Church

Third Sunday of Advent: JOY

God’s peace and joy to you this morning!

As I write this morning, I am thinking about the week I have just experienced.  I have shared with two families in the midst of grief and I have shared with two congregations in the midst of joy.  It seems to me we move through life in the midst of God’s peace and joy.   I thought about how powerfully these words describe the God of Advent.  This third Sunday in Advent is the Sunday of JOY!  How in the midst of waiting do we find joy? 

I saw a commercial last night that showed several vignettes of children interacting together.  In each scene the child was behaving badly until the child looked up and saw a white-haired old man with a long white beard.  In the instant that they saw the Santa-look-alike (even though he was not dressed in his red suit),  their behaviors changed for the better. The joyful possibility that the waiting would soon be over, the joyful reality of the promise that Christmas would soon be here, the possibility that there really was a Santa Claus made a difference in their lives and in their behavior 

The angelic announcement to Mary, the affirmation Mary found in Elizabeth, the dream that Joseph had, were all signs that pointed to the reality of the promise that God had made to Israel, a Messiah would be born.   It was in noticing the signs, it was in realizing that the promise would be fulfilled that Mary was overwhelmed with joy; so overwhelmed that joy overflowed in her words, “My soul magnifies the Lord!”  Mary then began to see the bigger picture of how her life and life in the world would change because God had chosen, in the words of Eugene Petersen, “to move into the neighborhood” (John 1:14; The Message).   

Joy comes in realizing that the promise is being fulfilled.  Though in any given moment our lives may not seem peaceful and our song may not feel joyful; we can look up and see the signs of Christ living in our neighborhood,  we can see the signs and hear the stories of God’s presence among the people,  we can be reassured that the promised reality is here and on the way to fulfillment.  We can change the ways we live, our behaviors towards one another can improve and we can be Advent people.  People filled with joy!

Live in God’s peace and joy!

Pastor Judy