Third Sunday of Advent. This is the third Sunday in Advent. Today light three candles. The first Sunday the candle of hope was lit. Last Sunday the candle of love was lit. This Sunday light the candle of joy. It may be an expectation to be happy all the time as we get ready to celebrate Jesus' birth. Joy is not the same as being happy. Joy is a deeper feeling created by knowing God cares for everyone and sent Jesus as a reminder. During Advent, remember again God's gift of Jesus to the world and know the joy that gift brings to all people.
(Light the first three candles.)
Sing or read the first verse of "Joy to the World."
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room,
and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing,
and heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
(See the full hymn on page 246 in The United Methodist Hymnal.)
When looking at the third candle, remember God's promise of joy. God promised to send a Savior to the people. Today's reading is from the Gospel of Luke and is Mary's song of praise and joy. There must have been times when Mary was frightened, worried, fearful and sad. Today these words are a reminder of Mary's joy even in a time when she was unsure of the future. Her words can be a guide to look for the joy of God even when things may be uncertain.
Read Luke 1:47-55 New Revised Standard Version
"My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."
Reflect: It is a privilege to have this beautiful song of Mary. Imagine her singing the words written in Scripture. It is a testimony to her faith and joy at being chosen as God's servant. Who in the world needs God's joy? What are your hopes for joy in the world today? How do you help others know God gives joy?
Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son Jesus. Thank you for the joy remembering Jesus' birth brings today. Help me/us live in such a way my/our words and actions help others know of the joy you give. AMEN.
Daily Devotions: Week Three
Monday: Read Luke 1:47-55 again. Make a list of the things which bring joy to your life. Write your own song of joy to God or sing a song expressing joy to God.
Tuesday: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of joy? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.
Wednesday: Joy is something we need in the city in which we live. Think about different city leaders. Select one leader and pray for them today.
Thursday: Getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus can be a very busy time. Take a ten-minute break today. Sit quietly. Look at the Advent wreath if it helps you to concentrate. Pray, asking God's help to bring quiet and calm to a busy world.
Friday: Think about a family member or friend who needs God's joy and pray for them today.
Saturday: There are people in your neighborhood, the church and the community who need to know about God's joy. Select someone to visit today, be it electronically, by phone or in person. It doesn't necessarily have to be a visit to a home. Maybe there is someone you see in a place where you go to eat. Stop by today and talk with that person, relaying to them one way he or she brings joy to you.