Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Where's the Joy?

I had the opportunity to share during our Advent candle lighting last Sunday.  Here is a transcript of what I shared 

Perhaps you also struggle with joy.  What is it, where is it, do I have it in me, can I get it back, was it ever gone?...  I was mostly tripped up by thinking joy is emotionally driven, but joy actually comes through taking action- specifically; giving thanks to God, and proclaiming His goodness to others~ 

This is a difficult time of year for Lymies- at least for me-  as I am reminded more acutely of what I can't do, what I can't eat, where I can't go, what I can't afford-- and all the while the glare of glitter and glitz blinds me even more....and I sink...  But- there is sure footing to be found~             


 Week 2 of Advent     Bethlehem Candle    Peace/Joy               December 8, 2013

Micah  5:2-5a   He is our Peace

[a]But as for you, Bethlehem Ephratha
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
b]His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will [
Because [
d]at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.

The Bethlehem candle is the candle of preparation.

 It reminds us of preparing for Jesus’ coming,

 and the joy that John the Baptist proclaimed in anticipation of the Saviour of the world coming…. 


Peace on earth.   Joy to the World! 

Common expressions at Christmastime.   But for some of us, life challenges can make it difficult to grasp joy in the midst of trials… Especially- trials upon trials… 

Peace.  Joy.   These are words which frequent our vocabulary as Believers 

But, how often have we meditated upon the meanings of peace, of joy?   How would you explain their meaning to someone else?

In our small group a couple weeks ago, we had a brief discussion about what IS peace, what IS joy. 

My confession was that although peace for me is pretty much a constant sense of satiety deeply seated in my being---  the sense of joy, the meaning of Joy, is more elusive.

Peace- I get that/have that.  I can get a hold of it, identify it, communicate it.  It’s this deep sense of being whole, being safe, and having harmony.

But, what about this elusive joy?  The past several years have been challenging.  Many opportunities have come along that have put a seeming choke-hold on joy for me.

 I’d begun to wonder if I even knew what joy really was any more.

So, to help me get my head around joy, I asked my fellow small group gals, “What is joy to you?” 

(So many benefits to being in a small group; like being in a safe place to make confession, to ask questions, wrestle with the Word together, encourage each other in our walk… I encourage you to seek out a small group if not a part of one~)

After a thoughtful silence, the ladies shared, and gave me such lovely, thoughtful, responses.  Although different things were expressions about what joy meant to them- the common threads that sparkled as they spoke were that joy held these two elements:  Community and Beauty.  And, underlying joy, were peace and thanksgiving.

My ‘ah-ha’ was that  peace is much like a bedrock in our being, out of which we give thanks to God, and we share joy.  Joy is the expression of thanksgiving and peace. 

We may share joy in simple or extravagant  ways- but it cannot-not be shared, this message of Peace, of Goodness.  It must be communicated in community; shared with others…and it is done so with beauty, in artful expressions.  

You don’t have to be an ‘artist’ to express joy-  for Our Master of Beauty has well supplied us-  for instance-

Joy takes our heart of thanksgiving and turns:

our mouth into a smile

our voice into song,  a shout, or even a ‘joyful noise’ for some of us J

our eyes to gleaming

our hands to creative giving

our arms to embracing

our feet into dancing …. and more..

~  all beautiful expressions of joy.   Sometimes we can’t even begin to express how wonderful His peace and goodness are-  --   

 1 Peter 1:8 states “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”  I think in those times- God Himself allows His glory to purely shine through His own work of art- you!

 Peace is to be shared. To be enjoyed.  It’s expression is joy. 

There is a definition of joy that includes that joy is:  a ‘state of mind and orientation of the heart’.   It isn’t simply an ‘emotion’- another  ‘ah-ha’!

The orientation of my heart must be on the LORD, which brings peace- and my state of mind, one of thanksgiving. The anticipation of good things is not about my circumstances, my desires, my wishes, my hopes….  It’s not about what I have or don’t have…

It is about the Giver of Gifts- the One who is: Peace, Lord, Healer, Redeemer, Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, King…  He is to be anticipated.  He is Good.  In Him- we find joy!

Are you missing joy this Advent Season? 

Have losses, challenges, illnesses, financial concerns, difficult relationships, missed opportunities, and such- choked out your joy. 
In this Advent, and this particular time of preparation-  Join me in preparing by resetting,  our orientation back on to the bedrock of our peace-  the  Prince of Peace, the One Who Is Peace- Jesus ;  and the springs of joy will again flow freely. 

Blessings to all this CHRISTmas season!   I've not been able to post as much as has been on my heart to post these past several weeks~  life demands have been greater than my current capacities.   Thank you for your prayers and patience! 

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