We’ve heard that joy and happiness are different. But what marks their distinction? The source.
Happiness is often associated with surface conditions. Joy is internal and can exist even when life has gone sour.
Happy thoughts and feeling cheerful can come on unexpectedly, but joy is a choice, a deep-felt glow. Henri Nouwen wrote: “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
We see why it’s so appropriate that joy is one theme of the weeks of Advent. We have waited to celebrate His birth, and we now wait for His second Advent. We anticipate with joy His return and the culmination of history – His Story.
Love is the fourth candle of Advent. “God so loved the world that He sent His only, beloved Son” for our redemption. Love is the motive behind the gift of the Christ Child and then on to His life of service, His cruel sacrificial death, and His unexpected resurrection. The babe, wound in cloths, wrapped in love, lay in a feeding troth that early Christmas morn. The God-Man left His glory above to arrive by unnatural means, virgin-born, to live among, serve, and die for the creatures He made in His image.
The Christ Candle, lit on Christmas Eve or Day, doesn’t have a theme, only His glorious redeeming name – Christ – Savior, Messiah. All the other candles revolve around the Christ Candle and alert us to His character of hope, peace, joy, and love. These candles are lit only to show forth the Light of the world who is Jesus.
This day after Christmas; rejoice, for we find our hope, peace, joy, and love in Christ and none other. May the new year find your fulfillment in Christ as His presence fills your days.