What brings joy to your life? What is it that "lights up your heart" to where you think a fire will soon start because of the joy you feel..."down in your heart?" You remember those moments don't you? They are imprinted in your mind, soul, and heart. Many things bring me joy — being with my family, watching my grandchildren doing new things every day, waiting in expectation for another grandchild. Spending time with the kids at Spring Creek always brings me joy. I was especially joyful when we gathered with their families to go on an Advent Adventure this past Sunday. Exploring, laughing, creating, listening, and eating. And I got to experience that joy today during my devotion time.
At our Advent Adventure we created a recording of Christmas songs to be uploaded from our website by families and friends of our military folk to wish them a joyful Christmas while they are away from family and friends. As I was doing my devotion, I listened to the recording and could not help but smile with joy as the beautiful voices of our kids and adults sang like a choir. That image will be imprinted on my heart for years.
I also know that it is sometimes hard to equate joy in the midst of grief, loss, despair, and fear of the unknown. However, the story of the coming of God to "our neighborhood" as love personified can still bring joy in the midst of pain and suffering. It can be found in God's love personified in each of us loving those who are longing for joy this Advent Season.
I encourage you if you are longing for Advent joy, to look around and experience those "God moments" that can help to bring peace to a troubled heart, and joy to a weary soul. Maybe, just maybe, you will experience something akin to what the shepherds experienced when they were told about the birth of the Christ Child:
Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord's angel stood before them, the Lord's glory shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you-wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David's city. He is Christ the Lord.
One last thing about the joy I have experienced here at Spring Creek during Advent. The kids in Sunday School recently gave me a "Thank you card." I read: "Dear Pastor Steve, Thank you for being our pastor and involving even the kids in all of the sermons you do."
Ay yes, another image of joy imprinted on my mind, soul, and heart.