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Joy to the World (Advent – Day 4)

Matthew 2:10-11
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Joy – “The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits.” (Noah Webster)

Every year we sing joy to the world, but do we understand what that really means? I love Websters definition of joy, “The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good……exhilaration of spirits.” Imagine the joy of the magi when they saw the star in the sky. While different thoughts vary on who they were it is now thought most likely these were part of a mystic order in what would probably be modern-day china. They were “guardians of an age-old prophecy that a star of indescribable brightness would someday appear “heralding the birth of God in human form.” 

Can you imagine spending your entire life searching for this star from prophecy and having so many generations before you that had been looking for this star, when Matthew says they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” I don’t think our minds can even comprehend how great this joy was. The prophecy was fulfilled! This joy was so great that this group traveled for 2 years before finding the Christ child. 

As we celebrate the birth of Christ how much more should we have this joy, because we have the expectation of good. We rejoice because Christ came down to provide a ransom for our sins. We rejoice because we are not alone, but Jesus is with us always. We rejoice because we know this world is not our home, we are strangers in a strange land, with a heavenly home we are journeying to. We rejoice in the family that God has surrounded us with. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

“Father God, we thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son’s birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world! Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we’ll spend eternity with You. We thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a merry Christmas. And we rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more. We know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the snow when to start. And we thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.

Thank You, Father, for spiritual leaders and faith-filled friends who keep encouraging us when we are close to giving up. And although we have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, we also know December 25th can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. We pray for those who are experiencing loss during Advent: relational, financial, spiritual, and physical. We pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. We pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness… and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances. Finally, Lord, we ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control. Help us to stay focused on You, this Advent season and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
~Steph Raquel, from “A Christmas Prayer for the Merry… and Not-So-MerryProv. 31 Ministries