The Third Sunday of Advent

I always felt I had a special relationship with Joy - it is my middle name. Every year in church, because there were three children in my family, we lit the advent wreath on the third week. My sisters, with my parents help, lit the candles of Hope and Peace, but I got to light Joy all by myself. I was very proud, and to certain extent felt ownership of this third Advent Sunday. It was my joy, my celebration. Until one year, another family had three children, and my candle, my joy, was given to another. 

This family lit the candles in a different order - the oldest was the first: Hope; the middle child - Peace. Then everyone together with a hand on the wand lit the candle of Joy together. It was fitting for their story. The new child was a long-awaited miracle, and this baby brought joy to the family. After many years of difficult pregnancies, here was a child! What a gift for all of us to witness that Sunday morning. It taught me something very important about Joy. Joy is more than one's own happiness, it is witnessing another person's. Joy can be telling someone about the good things that have come into your own life, but Joy is even more about listening to someone else's story, happiness or grief.

As we await Christ's coming into the world, let us watch and listen for Joy as people share with us. And when we hear sorrow and mourning, grief and despair, listen and sit and witness their broken heart. Joy and good news does not have to be balloons and a parade. Joy is just as powerfully those quiet moments when someone says, "You are loved."

SUPC Pastor