The theme for this Sunday is “Joy.” Most people confuse joy with happiness. They are not the same thing. What is portrayed in all of the modern-day trappings of Christmas leaves most of us seeking “happiness,” NOT “joy.”
Think about the movies that we watch around Christmas: In “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge is all messed up and everybody hates him, but by the end everything is wonderful, it all works out and everybody is happy! In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we see that, in the midst of turmoil and hardship, in the end it all works out and everyone is happy. Even “Christmas with the Kranks” ends up that way because that is the way that Christmas is supposed to be. All it takes to be happy is finding that perfect love, that perfect gift, that perfect tree or that perfect relationship.
Think about the pictures that we always use around Christmas. They point to happiness not joy. The family is assembled and everything is perfect with the family. Everyone is at peace. Everyone is together and no one is left out. The fact is very few of us will experience that kind of family Christmas this year. The result is that we are left with this deep desire to find happiness during this time of the year instead of joy.
But Advent is about preparing ourselves for Joy. There will be much in our lives that will not lead to happiness this Christmas. It has not been a perfect year for any of us. Things haven’t always worked out right and just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that all of a sudden it’s all going to work out for Christmas. There are wounds that still aren’t healed from the past; relationships that are still broken that we struggle with; and people who won’t be at that table. There are things in ourselves that we don’t like and those things remain.
This Third Sunday of Advent, with its theme of “Joy,” is meant to help us to understand that whether or not we get what we want, whether or not the events going on in our lives during this Christmas makes us happy, we can still have “Joy.” Joy is a fruit of the spirit and it comes with hope and inner peace. The scriptures assigned for this Sunday brings us the promise of “JOY” whether we have happiness or not.
So, join us in worship at Covenant on this 3rd Sunday of Advent as we learn to travel “The Road to Joy.” That’s my sermon title and I will be preaching it by using the scriptural texts of “Isaiah 35:1-10” and “Luke 1:46b-55.”