Advent Week 3

The third week of advent is focused on Joy. Joy is not the same as happiness, although happiness can include joy. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it has roots in gladness or peace of the heart (Luke 1:14), but it also should reflect our heart in moments of trials in life (James 1:2).

During Christmas we sing Joy to the World, God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, and others that reflect a sense of joy. But that joy can be mixed up with a sense of Christmas cheer where everyone is supposed to put on a smiling face and spread that cheer. But, joy is not about outward action but an inward gladness that comes from the heart. I think of joy as the part of me that sprang out of my heart when I first saw my son. I think of joy as the part of me that felt peace upon graduating with an education and a sense of accomplishment. And, joy is that part of me that feels peace in the midst of turmoil.

As you reflect on joy, what does joy look like in your life? And how, this advent season, can you enter into joy--not because it is expected of you, but because it springs from your heart?

Advent Week 2

Week 2, where's week 1?

Well, it was last week, and I forgot to write about week 1 (hooray Turkey and pie!) So, we're starting with week 2!

The second week of Advent is focused on hope. Jeremiah, the prophet from the Old Testament, spoke to God and said "Our hope is in you". Hope means to trust in, wait for or look for. And advent is all about preparing ourselves for celebrating the birth of Jesus. Which begs the question--what are you hoping for today? If you're having trouble answering that question, maybe try this one--what are you desiring today?

If you desire to have a different job, your hope is that you'll have a good job. If you desire a new TV, you're hoping for a new TV. If you desire your pastor to preach a 15 minute sermon, you're hoping to get out of church early.

As you prepare for this Sunday's message, examine your desires and hopes. Are they found in God? Do the things you strive after reflect Jesus? As you sit and think about Christmas, what are your desires and hopes, and where is your focus during this holiday time?