Each week of advent, Doug Smith (former lead pastor), will be sharing a reflection with our church community. This week's reflection is on joy.
The back of the cereal box said it all. Embedded in the Rice Crispies was the latest in communication devices: A Dick Tracy Walkie-Talkie (for those younger than me, Dick Tracy was a 50’s cartoon detective). The pictures showed a free two-way device; a necessity for every young detective. My twin brother and I were so excited to retrieve the prize that my mom broke the rules and let us dig around the cereal to find it. In minutes we would become fully equipped world-class detectives! Pure joy.
Inside the box, we found two red plastic pieces that looked like mini frying pans. The 3-inch units had a small hole in the middle of the “pan”. Also supplied was a thin piece of string that stretched no more than 5 feet/1.5 meters. The instructions were simple, insert and knot the string on each end, pull it tight and then speak clearly. It didn’t take us long to discover the same level of communication could be accomplished with or without the Dick Tracy Walkie-Talkies. Our joy was gone.
Real joy is not that fleeting. We grow up and find out it has nothing to do with what we can pull from a cereal box or from this world. The back of the box or the best sales pitch may promise us joy but they don’t lead us there. Real joy comes from a deeper place. It is a gift of the Father through His Son. Just after Jesus told His disciples that He loved them as the Father loved Him He said,
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow. John 15:11
The joy of God emanates from the love of God. On this third Sunday of Advent, we consider the coming of the Father’s greatest expression of love; the coming of His Son. It is in the promise of the Christ child that real joy stirs and finds its place in all who would call Him Saviour.
What about the hard places we encounter? Can joy see us through? Can the cancer that grows in me steal my joy? No. In my experience, the hard places only serve to heighten the awareness of God’s greater goodness. My joy finds a deeper depth the closer I come to a permanent change of address. Is every day a “happy dance”? Not even close, but “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b). Far from short-lived, the joy we experience lasts our lifetime and beyond.
Light a third candle this Sunday, trust the fulfillment of the promise of the Christ child and be filled with joy!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.