Today is the third Sunday of Advent and we light the candle of joy. You might wonder if we can have joy at Christmas this year, with all the upheaval around the world. I’m here to say a resounding, YES!
Our joy is not based on the circumstances around us, but on the person of Jesus Christ. As many of you know, I’ve walked through tragedies the past four years. Even this past year, I experienced one of my biggest losses when I no longer worked with a mission where I poured my heart and soul into the people.
Even in the midst of that deep loss, I declared blessings from God. I had no idea how God would bless me, but I turned my focus from me to God. In that turning, I also turned from fear to joy.
Oftentimes, we don’t experience joy because we are afraid.
- Afraid we won’t have enough money to pay our bills.
That was my fear this year when I lost my part-time job.
- Afraid we might be exposed to COVID19 or get the virus, itself
- Afraid of our new political leaders
- Afraid of the virus vaccine and it’s implications in our lives
- Afraid of losing a spouse, due to the tensions in our marriage
- Afraid our kids won’t come back to God, if they’ve walked away
- Afraid your holidays with family will be a disaster
Fear robs us of any joy we might have because our eyes are on what’s happening around us, instead of the one who is in control of what’s happening. Let’s take a look at the shepherds in the Christmas story. I’ve included questions for you to discuss on this third Sunday of Advent.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.Luke 2:8
What were the shepherds doing?
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,Luke 2:9
Who showed up in the skies above the shepherds that night?
What did the skies look like to the shepherds?
How did the shepherds react?
What were they afraid of?
How would you feel if you were doing your job in the middle of the night and all of a sudden the skies were bright as day?
Let’s face it, I’d be afraid of the Lord’s radiant glory, too. We need to press into our fears and move to joy.
but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!”Luke 2:10
What did the angel say to the shepherds?
Could God use your fear to get your attention, like he did with the shepherds?
What is God’s message to you when you’re afraid?
From Fear to Joy
I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.Luke 2:10
What else did the angel say to the shepherds?
When you’re afraid, who should you listen to?
What will be the result from listening to God?
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!Luke 2:11
What is rest of the angel’s message?
Who is the Savior, the Messiah?
What will He save us from?
How long had the Jews been waiting to hear from God, waiting on their Messiah?
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.Luke 2:12
Where will they go to find the Savior of the world?
Do you know what a manger is?
It’s not a palace. Not a clean hospital room. Not a flashy place. Not a safe place. Not the item in the store display. Not a bigger home. Not a new car. Not in good grades. Not in being popular.
It’s hidden and easy to miss. All the joy in the world is found a barn, in a feeding trough.
Where are you looking for joy
on this third Sunday of Advent?
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.Luke 2:15-16
What did the shepherds do?
Did they shepherds take a risk? How so?
Whose word did the shepherds trust?
How might they experience joy once they arrived at the manger?
After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.Luke 2:17,20
Because of the shepherds’ joy, what did they do?
Joy precedes praise. Even in small daily activities. We sit down for a meal and think, “this looks delish”. Then, we thank God for our meal.
On this third Sunday of Advent, take time to think about the shepherd story and the joy they had. How might you turn your fears into joy this week?
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