Joy to the World

Theme: Jesus came to bring us joy. He will come again and take us to a place of everlasting joy. Advent 3, Yr. A
Object: A calendar showing the number of days left until Christmas.
Scripture: And the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:10 (NIV)

Just look at the calendar! There is just a little over a week to go until Christmas. Do you have all of your Christmas shopping done? I hope so, because the stores are really beginning to get crowded.

A few days ago, I had a few last-minute things that I needed to buy to finish up my Christmas shopping, so I got in my car and headed for the mall. That was a big mistake! The parking lot was packed and I drove around for what seemed like an hour looking for a place to park. I was beginning to get a little bit steamed when I finally found a place to park. I went inside and the people were elbow to elbow. Why did I ever decide to come here so near to Christmas?

After pushing and shoving my way through the crowd, I finally found the items I needed and headed to the checkout line. You guessed it! The checkout line was a mile long! If there is one thing that I hate more than just about anything, it is waiting! I thought about leaving, but I really needed these items, so I stood there in line--fussing and fuming and griping about how slowly the line was moving. "Look at those people in line ahead of me," I thought, "why can't they make their children behave? Can't they see that they are disturbing those of us who want to wait in grumpy silence?"

As I stood there in line, I began to think, "What could I do while I am waiting besides standing here in a bad mood?" I thought, "Well I could visit with the people around me. Maybe we could share our plans for the holidays. That would take my mind off of having to wait. And you know, those kids up there in front of me are actually kind of cute. They are just having fun while they wait. I could enjoy watching them play and listening to the sound of their laughter."

Suddenly, I heard a sound that I had not even noticed a few minutes earlier. I heard the sound of music coming over the store's speaker system. "Joy to the World, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!" Suddenly, I felt ashamed of the way I had been acting. This is the Christmas season. This is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus came to earth so that we might have a life filled with joy--and here I was acting like an old Scrooge.

Sometimes I will hear someone say, "I can't wait until Christmas!" Well, the truth is, we can wait. In fact, we must wait. The question is, how will we wait? Will we wait in grumpy silence, or will we decide to experience all the joy of the season in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus--the source of all true joy?

Today we light the third candle on the Advent Wreath. The candle of Joy. Jesus came to bring us joy. He will come again to take us to a place of everlasting joy.

Father, as we wait for the day when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, and as we wait for the day when he will come again, fill our hearts with the joy that only you can bring. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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