Advent is a season celebrated among Christians which occurs during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a time where we prepare for Jesus’ arrival into the world.
One practice closely associated to Christmas for me is the lighting of candles on the advent wreath. Each Sunday one candle is lit to remind us of an aspect of the Advent season: faithfulness, hope, joy, and love. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day the fifth center candle, the Christ candle is lit to symbolize Jesus’ birth.
In past weeks we have talked about faithfulness and hope. This week let us focus on joy.
Joyful hearts are what we should have in anticipation of the even that changed everything: Jesus’ birth.
Before his arrival and eventual sacrifice, the Jewish people were required to give sacrifices at the temple to atone for their sins. Jesus was the ultimate, perfect sacrifice that freed us from sin and death. What joy we should have in light of this great news!
What are some ways we can prepare our hearts for this joyous news?
One practice that helps fill my heart with joy is worship, especially through music. Christmas time makes this a very easy practice because of all of the specific songs available to remind us of the joy we have in Jesus. “Joy to the World” is an obvious choice. “Go Tell It On The Mountain” is energetic and invites us to share the good news of Jesus’ birth. Other songs that may help you feel joy are “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.
Another practice is prayerful repentance. Admitting our errors and mistakes purifies our hearts and makes room to fully appreciate the good gift God gave us in Jesus.
Practicing gratitude is an outward expression of a joy-filled heart. Thanking God for all he has done for us and giving thanks for those in our lives who have blessed us cannot help but grow our joy.
What are some songs that fill your heart with joy? How do you prepare your heart?