For Christians, this is the the season of Advent. A time of joy and contemplation. A time of remembering Christ’s first coming and of looking forward to His return. Of what was, and what is to be.
On the first and second Sunday of Advent we lit the candles of Hope and Peace. On this third Sunday of Advent we light the candle of Joy. This third Advent candle signifies the joy we have in looking back at the first coming of Jesus Christ. In Luke 2:10-11, this joy is heralded by angels to shepherds:
The angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy for all people. For unto you is born this day in Bethlehem, the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
Great joy is also expressed when the adult Jesus enters Jerusalem near the end of his earthly ministry, heading toward His death on the cross:
Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey – riding on a donkey’s colt. Zechariah 9:9 NLT
And we rejoice at the thought of Jesus’ second coming, for which we wait somewhat patiently:
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10 ESV
As we light the third candle, we return our Advent focus of joy to the first coming of the Lord Jesus, and the remarkable meeting of two women who would not have been bearing children had it not been for God’s miraculous plan. Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke recounts their meeting:
And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who hear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of the their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.” Luke 1:41-55 NKJV
Joy To The World!