[#pictureAdvent] December 20: JOY

By Daryl Allen
Community UMC, Co-Pastor
Fruitland Park, FL

First, read Luke 1:39-45

June 24, 2013 will always be a day of great joy for me. My wife and I have two children that are ours by the miracle of birth, but on June 24, 2013 we welcomed our newest child that we adopted from China.

That day, the very moment that our eyes met and we saw each other for the very first time, the feeling of joy simply washed over me. I was overwhelmed with emotion and so incredibly happy!

 Our Scripture lesson for today comes from the Gospel of Luke and paints another experience of incredible joy. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with a boy who we would come to know as John the Baptist. Just the very sight of Mary, not only causes Elizabeth to jump up and be filled with joy, her unborn son John follows suit.

 Joy can often be described as someone or some event that elicits or causes great joy and happiness. In meeting my son for the first time, Elizabeth meeting her cousin Mary, the one “[God] has blessed…above all women”, or any other experience where those feelings of happiness cannot be contained; that is joy.

Those moments are the moments when the veil between heaven and earth is thinned just a bit and we can feel the presence of God in a very real and very tangible way.

 And we feel that presence of God because God is the author of that joy. God is excited and eager to share that joy with you so that you will be drawn into a deeper relationship with God.

Another wonderful part of that joy is that we can share it with others. We each have those people in our lives that need to feel God’s joy and the love of God that comes in that joy. We can be a vessel by which God’s joy changes not only our lives, but the lives of others.

 My life was forever changed when I met my son for the first time in that office in China. The joy that washed over me for the love I had for him and the joy I had at answering that call in my life, still moves me. Neither of us will ever be the same after that experience and I thank God everyday for that.

 I want to encourage each of you to find that joy in your life. I want to invite you to look for that joy and even expect that joy in your life. God is waiting to give you joy, so open your heats and mind to receive all that God has in store for you!

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. Where have you felt the joy of God in your life recently?

2. Have there been those moments of joy from God that you have missed or been attributed to other things/people/events?

3. Where can you ask God to reveal joy to you in this Advent season?