A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
December 14, 2019
December 10, 2016
You’ve heard it in Scripture and we sing it together at our liturgies:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice!” Philippians 4.4
On this, the Third Sunday of Advent, we rejoice as a People of God as we light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreath and celebrate “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means rejoice! We are filled with joy and anticipation as we come near the birth of Jesus, the one who has come to save us.
Renowned theologian Henri Nouwan describes in his writing the difference between joy and happiness. Joy, he
says, is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death – can take that love away.” Happiness, he says is dependent upon external conditions: being with friends makes me happy, buying a new outfit or car makes me happy, even spending time with a good friend makes me happy. But joy, true joy is much more an experience. To know you are loved and that nothing can take away that love, even when we fail to be our best self, is what we know as
“Christian Joy.” It is Christian because of the gift of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the ultimate gift of love; God’s unconditional love. Can there be a greater reason on this earth to REJOICE!?
To be sure this is an incredibly busy time of year and many people feel pressured, some pressure from responsibilities or expectations of others, and some pressure that we put on ourselves to have everything “just right” for the holidays. If we are not deliberate in our effort to find a healthy balance in how we live, we may miss out on the gift of Christian Joy. God is caring for us. God is loving us unconditionally and God will see us through even the most stressful times. Our faith in Immanuel; God with us, assures us of that. Let us be deliberate this week in our effort to slow down, breathe deeply, and sit quietly in the presence of God. For it is then that we will experience Christian Joy and then with our hearts filled with gratitude we will REJOICE!