Rejoice!  Again I say Rejoice!  I love that word.  As I told you on Sunday, rejoice literally means joy practiced and repeated.  And the definition points to something that we don’t often think about, namely that joy has to be practiced.  God provides for us joy in the form of His son Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.  Yet, it is up to us to accept that joy, to practice living in and through that joy.  It doesn’t mean that the pain in our lives will be erased, it just means that we have the pain does not define us.

Joy operates as a sort of buoy in our lives, is stops us from sinking down into despair and darkness, it helps us keep a float when the waves of pain and misfortune try to sink us.  Think about it this way, joy is God’s life preserver as we navigate the dark seas of this world.  You might experience some rough times, but because of the joy that God provided and continues to provide, you know you are not going under.  What’s more, when you worship god because of His gift, you jump start your joy.  Repeat this (I.E practicing joy – rejoicing) and the less the rough seas will be able to knock you off course.  Don’t get me wrong, every so often a big wave will hit you and you’ll feel like you’re going under, but God will never let you down.  Of course, if you choose not to live in God’s love and practice accepting joy, it’s going to be a much rougher ride.
Think of those shepherds.  Just minding their business, watching their flocks at night, when all of the sudden a brilliant light appears and an angel tells them good news of great joy for all.  Once you get past the “do not be afraid” moment (I think you know my feelings on this subject), you find that their fear was reduced, and their joy increased, by worshiping the baby.  What an amazing thing!  When we worship, our fear is reduced and our joy is increased.  If we look at the 3 weeks of Advent so far, we can see that God has been giving us reasons to worship Him - Hope, Love and Joy.  What amazing gifts.  All three help us to know that while it may seem dark around us, we are not orphans in the dark, we are children of the light.

This season of Advent we have focused on the star as our guide, that which pierced the darkness with its light.  This coming Sunday we will look at our final candle, peace.  God wants nothing more than for us to love, serve and care for one another.  He sent us the greatest gift of all, His son, to show us how to live united.  It reminds me of the song written by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller in 1955, Let There Be Peace On Earth. “Let there be peace on earth/ And let it begin with me./ Let there be peace on earth/ The peace that was meant to be./ With God as our father/ Brothers all are we./ Let me walk with my brother /In perfect harmony.”

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we really look at peace.

Pastor David.

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