Today is the third week of Advent, and our theme is joy!

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

It’s fitting that the theme is joy since we now cross the halfway marker of Advent.  The celebration of Christmas is just around the corner. Even the “Scroogiest” among us is feeling it now!

Yet, it’s ironic that this month (and next) typically are the high points of the year in terms of new and updated prescriptions for medicines treating depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  All evidence seems to indicate that what we are experiencing at this time of the year most certainly isn’t joy.

Have we forgotten about the joy of the season?

The most tangible expression of Christmas joy started in the heart of a girl willing to believe the message from an angel. We read in Luke 1:46-55:

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:46-55, New International Version
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

This passage is known as “Mary’s Song of Praise” or the Magnificat.  Have you ever stopped and imagined the situation she was in when she was declaring/singing this?

The nearly 100% certainty that her engagement (to use our terms) being canceled (divorce in their way of thinking).
Even the possibility of being stoned (and I don’t mean Egg Nog…).

Yet, in spite of all that…“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (verses 46-47).  I guess it’s really true: Mary really was the first one to carry the Gospel (Good News)!  She understood the Good News of Jesus in her womb long before He was ever born.

She rejoiced in the goodness of God.  Look at why…

  • He is merciful to those who revere Him (verse 50).
  • He has performed miracles (verse 51a).
  • He has humbled the proud (verse 51b-52).
  • He has filled the poor in spirit (verse 53).
  • He has kept His word of promise (verse 54-55)

So…are you joyful in this third week of Advent? 

Look over that list again and personalize it: list ways God has been merciful to you and ways you have revered Him. 

What miracles has He performed for you?  (I can’t look into the eyes of our daughter and son and not see the miracles He has performed!) 

How has He humbled you, or how has He brought you peace from those that are? 

Has He ever filled your spirit?  When was the last time you counted your blessings?

O Holy Father in Heaven, forgive us for not being joyful here in the shadow of the ultimate miracle of Christmas: the incarnation.  Give us the eyes to see your mercy, miracles, corrective hand, filling of our spirits, and your promises.  May we, like Mary, magnify You, O Lord of all Joy!

Be joyful on this third week of Advent, my friends.  May God bless you with the joy found only in Him this season.

Suggestions for reading and meditation through this week:

  • Isaiah 35:1-10
  • Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
  • Psalm 100
  • Zephaniah 3:14-20
  • John 1:29-34
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Song: “How Great Our Joy” (Point of Grace has a wonderful version of this hymn)
  • Song: “Joy to the World”
  • Song: “Good News” (As performed by group “Avalon”)