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The Third Candle of Advent 2023 - Joy

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God -- Isaiah 60: 10a
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior -- Mary's "magnificat" as reported in Luke 1: 46b-47
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you  -- Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians 5: 16-24

I have always enjoyed wishing people "Merry Christmas," especially if I am the first person to do so. Steve Lawrence's voice still echoes in my mind from having heard his version of "Let Me Be the First to Wish You Merry Christmas" for so many decades of Christmases.

But, the third candle of advent and the voices of Isaiah, Mary, and Paul remind us that being merely merry isn't nearly good enough. At the thought of the birth of Christ, we are to rejoice! And, as Christians, being joyful at Christmas isn't nearly good enough. either. We are to "rejoice always!"

Joy is deep, profound happiness. It is a sense of well-being where being -- life itself -- is understood to be a gift of God. It is the kind of well-being that carries us through the tough times of life, even the tragic times. It is the well-being that makes us more sensitive to beauty, to goodness, to loving-kindness.

If you see me in the next few days, I hope you hear me wish you a Merry Christmas! Just remember, we know what that really means -- My spirit rejoices in God my Savior! Rejoice! Rejoice always!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Russ





Feel great joy

Elemental, essential.

Not merely the opposite of sadness

Profound, deep happiness

Peace, not the absence of violence, but the presence of well-being

Connection with creation, and thus with the Creator, a shared experience


Our souls thirst for joy like our bodies thirst for water

Without water we cannot live.

Without joy it is too painful to love

First appeared as "Joy" in The Write Launch, Issue 21 (January 2019).

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