Advent Joy: When the Darkness Meets Jesus
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
This week in Advent we light the Joy candle.
Are you a glass half full lady? (We see you, Enneagram 7s!) Or are you a glass half empty gal? (You can’t hide, you Enneagram 4s!) Today, please rest assured that there is a place for all of your beautiful hearts--the happy hearts and the melancholy hearts--in the Advent light of Joy.
Fleming Rutledge reminds us that, “Advent bids us take a fearless inventory of the darkness: the darkness without and the darkness within.” Advent invites us to be honest with ourselves that the darkness is real and (at times) suffocating. Advent invites us to look the suffocating darkness square in the eye on the basis of the once and future advent of Jesus Christ rather than on the basis of our own cheerful (or broody) disposition.
In Christ, our joy and our sorrows are related. Jesus conquered the darkness through suffering. We find joy in darkness by anticipating the victorious final resolution that God will accomplish in Christ.
The joy of the Lord is our strength.
What does this mean?
Philippians 1:25-26 reveals Paul’s inner musings about his own joyful suffering and his desires to be alongside his Philippian friends in their bright sadness.
The Message records Paul this way: “As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.”
This passage shows us Advent joy lighting struggles in at least three ways:
Paul believes that life includes “good work for him to do.” Whatever God has given us to do on earth, there is joy to be had within our earthly, tangible, everyday efforts. What good work is yours today and what is the joy it holds?
Paul locates the Philippians’ joy in the continuation of their “life of trusting God.” Practicing trust in God makes room in our hearts for joy. Is there a space in your life where trust in God can be the thread that weaves together your suffering and your joy?
Paul anticipates joy as he looks forward to being with his friends in the flesh again soon. Even in our loneliness, anticipating human companionship brings joy. How can the memory, practice, or anticipation of simple community offer soothing joy to your heart today?
However joy comes to you today--through work, through faith, or through human connection--we pray that you would sense the gracious presence of Jesus whose birth was the “great and joyful event meant for everybody--worldwide!”
The Kaleid Team
P.S. For a lovely collection of videos about the biblical basis for the words we use at Advent, visit The Bible Projects Advent Word Study series.