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Week 3, Wednesday:  Joy

Anita Fitzgerald Henck

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"The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'"

Joy. . .

Despite singing about it at this holy season . . . "Joy to the world, the Lord is come" . . . "Tidings of comfort and joy" . . . often we forget the meaning of the joy of the season. We get so bogged down in lists and shopping and decorating and baking and parties and rehearsals and cantatas and . . . and . . . and . . . that we forget to find joy.

And, even more, sometimes as Christians we forget what the joy of Christ really means. It was joy that was born in a stable in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago.

The joy of Christ isn't a life of ease and perfection. In fact, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

So Joy to the world, the Lord is come is also the joy of the cross. It is the joy of the runner who has completed a race, yet suffered hardship. It is the joy of investing at great cost, with an eternal reward. It is the joy of being a new creation in Christ. It is the joy of the crucifixion and resurrection and ascension of Christ.

James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2)

Somehow we rarely seek joy in testing. Yet, it is through this process that we discover the strength and support of Christ. And, through that we find real joy.

So, the joy of this season is the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, focus on the joy of the manger, the cross, the empty tomb, and the risen Savior. In that is the true meaning of Christmas.

~ Anita Fitzgerald Henck
Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Today's Scripture Readings*
[am: 119:49-72] [Zech 3:1-10] [Rev 4:1-8] [Matt 24:45-51]

Dear Lord, Our Strength,

The race seems so long. It IS tiring. But, the victory is so sweet, so fulfilling, so invigorating. Even when I seem the most tired, Your gift of the spiritual second wind is the most blessed thing I could receive just then. You ARE my joy, and Your presence and power brings more to me than I have ever found any place else. I love You, Lord. And I'm beginning to believe that the joy in that is mutual between us. I surely hope that this means as much to You, as it does to me.


*These readings are adapted from the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer, Year 2.  For Year 1 readings, see Daily Readings, Advent 1.

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