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The Third Week of Advent: Joy

The Third Week of Advent: Joy

The Third Week of Advent: Joy

by Rev. Ken Dill on December 15, 2020

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.  
- Psalm 126:5-6

The children of Israel had suffered through seventy years of captivity in Babylon. When they were able to return to Jerusalem and worship at the temple, their hearts were filled with joy. As they sang this song, they were overwhelmed with God’s goodness.

This psalm became a standard hymn for them to sing on special occasions. Jerusalem is located on an elevated table of land. To get to the temple, they had to ascend the roads to Jerusalem. This psalm is known as a psalm of ascent to remind them of the faithfulness of God as they go up to the temple.

It is a strange mashup of a rally cry and a lullaby. Singing this song would encourage their spirits and give them strength to endure whatever hardship they were going through. It would also calm their spirit and give them assurance that God was at work for them. Add those together, and it equals joy.

The Advent wreath is bright with three candles this week. We light the candle of joy.

Whatever difficulty we are going through we are assured that God is with us and working for us. We may experience pain and tears, but God will redeem it with joy!

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. The words are from a poem written on Christmas day, 1863, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It reflects the trouble in his spirit over the American Civil War and his faith in God. His poem includes verses that are not often sung.

As you light the candle of Joy, in your heart or on your wreath, read his words and feel both his pain and his confidence that God restores our joy.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Tags: advent, joy, christmas