This is the third in a series of candle lighting liturgies focusing on the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. – John 16:20-22 (NRSV)
Can we comprehend joy? We know about happy, but joy is something much deeper. As with peace, it doesn’t really have anything to do with our circumstances. In fact just like hope and peace, joy often stands in defiance of our circumstances.
On the night before Jesus died, he told the disciples that their pain would turn into joy. He didn’t say their pain would be avoided but that joy would accompany it – even overcome it. I can’t say I understand that, but there is so much of God I don’t understand. However, what I hear in Jesus’ words is the promise of presence. The promise that we are not left alone in our suffering but that Jesus wades through it with us, bringing life into our world.
As we light this candle of joy, we proclaim that the joy Jesus gives us cannot be taken from us by anything in heaven or earth. Our joy is found in the relentless presence of Jesus despite our circumstances. It is the gift of life in the midst of death.
We remember that Jesus told us these things for he wanted us not just to know him but to share in his joy. A joy that is complete even if we cannot fully discern it. It is in this joy that we find both hope and peace — and in which our hearts rejoice.
Our joy is found in the relentless presence of Jesus despite our circumstances. #Joy #Advent Click To Tweet
 c.f. John 15:11