Advent is the Christian season in which we wait expectantly for the Lord. While the weeks leading up to Christmas can be busy and loud, remembering Advent encourages us to be still and wait on God. This is the second of four posts on Advent, each focusing on one of the season’s four traditional themes (hope, peace, joy, love). In them will be a smattering of reflections in the form of devotions, poems, prayers, images, and/or songs. This week’s theme is joy.

A Word

In his recent Life for Leaders devotion, Breon Wells reflects on joy during the Advent season. Read an excerpt below and read the entire devotion here.

We are in the season of Advent, and Christmas is nearly here! When I was a child, this season was full of excitement, anticipation, and joy. The excitement came because school would be out of session for the rest of the year. The anticipation, because I just knew I was getting every present on my list. And at that time, I attributed joy to the overall infectious nature of the season—everyone seemed full of joy. As I reflect upon these early years, I see that it was easy for me to be joyful. I had no responsibilities and no real experience with hardships and misfortunes. As a result, adopting an attitude of joy was not a struggle.

Natural disasters, violent outbreaks across the globe, cycles of poverty, persistent oppression, societal schisms, pervasive wickedness. It would be great if we only experienced sunshine and happiness, where all things are equal. However, life is mixed with pleasure, pain, triumph, tragedy, and injustices. We are reminded daily that we live in a broken world—the devastating results of Adam and Eve’s transgression in the garden. As I got older, I became acquainted with misfortune, loss, and hurt. I began to realize that tragedy could befall anyone at any time, even during the Christmas season. I also began to realize that the more I experienced life, the harder it became to embrace joy. But perhaps this was because I misunderstood joy in its proper context.

Continue reading here.

An Image

Mary and Eve by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa.

As we approach Christmas, what a profoundly joyful thing it is to remember the gravity of what Christ’s coming truly means.

A Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
Help me to hear your voice.
Touch me once again.
Give me the courage to be your beloved.
Give me courage to choose joy.
I need you now this Christmas.
Be born in me again. Today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– Bonnie Gray, from “Why it Takes Courage to Choose Joy”