The first two weeks of Advent can definitely have us leaning into lament as we express our deep longings for hope and peace in the lives of those around us and within our world. This week I encourage you to set aside your mourning and consider the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds that Christ is come and he will be our “Great Joy.” (Luke 2:10) If you missed the first Advent post discussing the meaning of Lectio Divina and Advent, click here.
You may enter today’s reading longing for joy, but I’d like to invite you to look for the joy that is already present in your life. In this prayer time, try to notice where glimmers of joy are peeking out in your ordinary day or where it might be bursting forth as you walk down the street, ride the train, meet with friends, lead Bible study or enjoy a coffee. In this Lectio Divina practice, I want you to envision the joy present in your life as a heralding pronouncement just as it was for the shepherds. That same pronouncement is for you, in the present, and in the ordinary work of shepherding. My prayer for you in this practice is that as you reflect on the joy of Christ, you will begin to see his joy ever-present in the ins-and-outs of your ordinary week.
Settle into your quiet spot and en”joy” this blessed time with Christ today.
Advent Reading Week Three ~ Joy
Before reading or listening , take a moment to breathe in and out slowly as many times necessary to feel relaxed. Invite the Holy Spirit to join you in this sacred reading. Read the following scripture slowly one time. As you read, let God’s word wash over you. Remember, we are not here to analyze the text.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. ”Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)
Read the passage again slowly. During the second reading, notice if there is a word or phrase that stood out to you. Sit with the word or phrase and then write it down.
Reflect quietly with your word or phrase for a moment. You may use one or more of the following questions to aid your mediation:
—What in this passage felt joyful to you?
—What in this passage challenged you?
—Where might this word or phrase be speaking into something in your life right now?
—Ask Jesus: is there anything you want me to see? Is there something you want to say to me?
—The third week of Advent focuses on joy. Is there anything in your word or phrase that is inviting you into joy?
Read the scripture passage again slowly. This time offer a praise, petition, or thanksgiving that the reading has inspired in you. You may journal your prayer, draw, write a poem or engage in another form of prayer. This is your time to share with Jesus all that’s been revealed, including your joys. Consider these questions:
—What praise is welling up in you as you meditated on this scripture passage? —How does this reflection move me to pray?
—Is there something you are particularly joyful about for which you’d like to thank God?
—Where do you notice joy in your life? What situations in your life need joy?
—What is your honest prayer to God that has arisen from your word or phrase?
Read the passage one last time. This time, enjoy God’s presence with you. Open yourself to a deeper knowing of the Holy Scriptures. You may use the following questions for this closing:
—What is God’s invitation to you in this reading? —Where do you notice a proclamation of “Great Joy” for you in this time of reflection?
—Do you notice any hesitations, fears, excitement, or joy in the invitation?
—What conversion of mind, heart, and life is the Lord asking of you?
—Where would you like to experience more joy in your current situation? Enter into a conversation with God about that.
Joy is the precious gift of Christ who we meet, in the flesh, at Christmas. Joy is not a pie-in-the sky hope; Joy is alive and living in our world! The announcement of Christ to Mary and to us in the Christmas story is truly our greatest Joy. However, as cross-cultural workers, we know that not everyone gets to experience this great joy and many are still waiting to hear the great pronouncement of Christ’s arrival.
So, as you go about your week and consider the joy it is to know Christ, I encourage you to think about who and how you can you share that message of joy this Advent. You may have to be creative, but we serve a creative God who uses angels, stars, sheep and shepherds, mangers and the simple things of life to reveal his “Great Joy.” I’m excited to see how joy shines through you this Advent and into the lives of those around you. See you next week as we share one last Lectio Divina before Christmas.
Have you gotten 5 Ways to Meet with Jesus This Advent? Or signed up for the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to prepare you for Christ’s birth? You will receive an email each day from December 17th – 23rd that focuses on an attribute of Christ. Sign up for the series today and you’ll start receiving it on December 17th . . .which is almost here!