Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent: Week 3—The Candle of Joy (or the Shepherd’s Candle)

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.  
(Isaiah 9:2-3 KJV)

Note:  This is a re-post from last year with some editing.  I am currently in the process of discerning about writing some additional posts looking at Jesus’ birth prophesied in the Old Testament, so there may be a few additional posts in the coming weeks (likely in 2017).

*A special time of year is upon us—the season of Advent.  On November 27, 2016, we marked the first Sunday of Advent; this post takes a look at the third candle.  To read the previous posts in my Advent series please see: Advent, The Candle of Hope, and The Candle of Peace.

Banner at Trinity UMC--Albia, IA. Photo Credit: D. Wright

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  
(Isaiah 35:10 KJV)

Word Cloud creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.

Joy.  Joy is a word that likely brings many thoughts to mind, especially during this time of year.  In the natural, it is easy to struggle with finding any degree of joy at times.  However, for those who are in Christ Jesus, joy should be a natural outflow of a relationship with our Savior.  Joy is possible, even in the midst of the incredibly hard times of life. 

I fully realize how incredibly difficult it is to have joy when so much “hard” seems to happen all at once and not stop, or when everyone seems to disappear during this season and exclude certain people.  This happens in families far more than we can begin to realize. 

Poinsettias at Trinity UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

On the third Sunday of Advent, we light the Candle of JOY (or in some traditions it is the Shepherd’s Candle).  Jesus Christ is our joyThe third Sunday of Advent reminds us that in Jesus we have true HOPE, PEACE, and JOY.  Hope, peace, and joy that is true and solid—so true and solid that it lasts for all eternity!    

The story of Christmas is one of great joy.  Remember how Jesus’ birth was proclaimed and how the shepherds received the news with great joy, and how the wise men traveled from a great distance to see the newly born King of the Jews? 

As Christians, we can experience joy and peace that others in this world cannot fathom.  If not, it likely means that we have taken our eyes off of the Lord and placed them in the world or the flesh.  Our joy and peace should be seen by others; perhaps enough to make them take note and want to know more. 

How have you experienced this joy? 

This joy and peace has nothing to do with what is going on in our lives.  The joy Jesus gives to us, gives us strength—strength to face the loss of family and so much more.  Those who have a deep relationship with the Lord find joy in heartache that comes with the death of beloved family members—they rejoice knowing their loved one (who is saved) is with their Savior and Lord.  Yes, they are sad, yet not without hope or joy.    

Word Cloud creation of K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved. 

Countless believers have counted the cost of following Christ and found it a cost worth paying.  They have found the hope, peace, and joy that seems so very elusive at times.  The question is:  have you found it too? 

If you have not yet experienced this inner joy; what are you waiting for?  Jesus stands ready to welcome you to Him—He has already said “yes” to you.  Salvation is in Jesus alone; we cannot get to heaven without Jesus as our Savior.  No one gets to heaven by being a “good person”—all our good deeds are but filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6).

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength(Nehemiah 8:10 KJV emphasis mine)

Banner at Trinity UMC--Albia, IA.  Photo Credit: D. Wright

Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on JOY—an emotion that is sometimes hard to come by in this world, especially during the busy holiday season.  What joy we should feel when we deeply consider that Jesus came to this world He created to provide a way for us to be reunited with our Heavenly Father.  He did this willingly, knowing what He would endure.  He loves us so much that He did what only He could do.  Because of that, I rejoice…  What about you?

Take some time prior to and on Christmas Day to truly focus on Jesus whose birth we celebrate. 

Remember the Reason for the Season!

What can you do to focus on the joy found in Jesus? 

Please do not forget your single friends, family, neighbors, or those in your church who will be alone on Christmas Day—consider inviting them to join with your family (no matter how simple and informal the gathering is)—the blessings will flow both ways!  Whatever you do, please do not tell them, “Oh, God is with you…” and then walk off, ignoring their hurting heart and heart-felt desire to fellowship with others on Christmas Day.  Do not assume they want to spend the day alone.  Your family may be the only family they will get to experience…EVER.  My prayer is that churches will not cancel services on Christmas Day—to do so is to miss the point of the day and season entirely!

Please join with me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the Joy we can experience because of Jesus, who restores our relationship with You.  Direct our focus to that JOY, especially during those times that are challenging and painful.  Show us how to be a comforting, loving presence to those around us who need to experience Your love and presence with skin on.  Jesus Christ, Immanuel—God with us—our HOPE, PEACE, and JOY—we praise You!  Help us to truly experience joy during this season of Advent and throughout the year.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


**Special Note:  Currently, I am planning to have a post on Christmas Day that will wrap up the series on Advent. **


  1. Rejoicing with you, Kim! In Jesus, we can always find joy, hope and peace.
    Love and blessings!

    1. Thank you Martha! Yes, in Jesus we really do have joy--a joy that is so different than what the world calls joy. The added bonus is that we have hope and peace too.

      Love and blessings!


All comments are moderated. Please use care in posting comments or replies. If you wouldn't say what you are writing in person, rethink your words. Remember words can build up or tear down. Speak the truth in love.