Joy is one of the big 4 themes of advent. It gets its own candle and is, traditionally, the candle that gets its own color. 

Joy can be hard to define. As an emotion, it is described as having great pleasure or happiness. This makes joy fleeting, however, since pleasure and happiness come and go. Hardly worthy of its own color and candle in Advent. 

So what is joy then? As described in the scriptures, joy is the gift that comes from the grafting into our souls hope and peace. Joy is the result of trusting in the faithfulness of God through promises proved and yet to come, and the peace of knowing that Jesus is our advocate and knowing that God’s love for us is complete and unconditional. When we have hope and peace, it is possible for us to endure trials. When we have hope and peace, we can wade into the darkness to find the light. Joy sustains. Happiness and pleasure do not. Joy can carry us through valleys. Happiness will leave us as we descend and meet up again at the next mountain peak. This isn’t to say happiness is bad. Not at all. It just isn’t joy. It isn’t hopeful. It isn’t peaceful. And it certainly cannot be our strength, as joy is described in Nehemiah.

This Advent and beyond, may you have hope, peace and therefore, joy. 

VERSE: John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Prayer: O God of joy, grant us the gifts of hope and peace as we strive to dwell in you. Remind us of your faithfulness through promises proved and of your all-consuming unconditional love for us. Let your joy be the foundation of our lives and our strength.