The Third Sunday of Advent- December 17th

JOY RADIATES WITH THE RISING SUN: WATCHING WITH JOY

Outer Banks 2016 (234)

Scripture for the Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Psalm 126

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Our scriptures for this Third Sunday of Advent- the week of Joy- show us so many reasons we can be joyful! The first verses of Isaiah are the assuring ones Jesus read in the temple as a young man (Luke 4:21). Isaiah proclaims that we will ‘greatly rejoice’ in the Lord because the poor will receive good news, the captives will be released, the blind will see, and the oppressed will be free. Psalm 126 recalls that God has done great things, so ‘those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.’ 1 Thessalonians encourages us to ‘rejoice always’ as we give thanks in all circumstances. Finally, John 1 tells the story of John the Baptist, who came to testify to the light that was coming- giving the people another reason for joy!

God’s joy given to us in Christ is our focus for this week. Let’s be mindful, let’s be watchful for the joy that is ever present for us, no matter our circumstances. Psalm 16:11 is a good verse to remember this week. “In your presence there is fullness of joy” (NRSV). Always.

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”   ~ Russel M. Nelson

ADVENT WREATH/CANDLES

Turn off the lights and sit in the darkness for a few minutes…

Think back on some of your more memorable and joyous moments in your life. Was it a person, event, or place that brought you joy? Take a few minutes to thank God for these people and these experiences… Have you ever felt the surprising joy that inexplicably bubbles up during a difficult or sad time? Sit in wonder and gratitude for our God whose presence blesses us with joy in all circumstances. Is joy hard to find these days? Ask God to fill your heart as only God can do.

Light the first candle of hope, the second candle of love, and now the joy candle (often times the joy candle is pink, as a symbol of joy).

Our family spent a wonderful week at the Outer Banks a few summers ago. We made a point to awaken early so we could watch the sunrise on the ocean. These moments will be treasured always; the memories of all of us watching with quiet wonder as the first glimpse of the sun peeked over the horizon. Sunrises are “shining examples” of this amazing world- and our awe for the One who created it.

When I remember these mornings, I find that I treasure our waiting time even more than the first cresting of the sun. Coffees in hand, still wearing pajamas, we sat quietly together in sacred anticipation of the new day. We eagerly watched and waited, fully knowing that the sun would rise. We began our day in gratitude and joy for the fresh start, the clean slate, the opportunity for good, the potential for discovery. And oh, the celebration when the Dawn appeared!

This Advent, we are watching and waiting. But we wait with joy in the assurance that the Dawn has come before, and the promise that the Dawn will come again! We can anticipate with holy joy, for we know that in God’s presence, we will have joy, no matter how the day unfolds. We joyfully recognize that God has brought us through another dark night. And with every tomorrow, we will have yet another new, fresh beginning.

God who brings us the Dawn of Light,

As we watch and wait for your Dawn, thank you for the joy of a fresh beginning for every day and every moment. Work in us during this time of waiting, to transform us into joy-filled disciples. Help us to be aware of the joy we find in your presence, and to share your joy with others. Amen.

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