In this advent series, we’ve already covered the candle of hope as a sign of God’s promises over our lives in Week One and in Week Two we looked at the candle of peace and how we need to prepare ourselves to wait on the prophecy of Jesus’ arrival.
This week, covers the candle of joy. In the previous two weeks the candle was traditionally purple, this week the colour of the candle is pink. Through the years, many Christians have presented different reasons for the origins of the pinkish candle ,from a tradition where priests would wear pink vestments (garments) to parents waiting in anticipation for the joy of a child’s arrival by painting the room pink (see pinks not just for girls), the rosy candle has its roots in something known in the catholic tradition as Gaudete Sunday.
What Is the Candle of Joy?
However, many churches opt to also use a purple candle, as in the first two weeks and it is often just like all the others. This is reflective of purples associating with royalty and therefore acknowledging Jesus’ status as royalty.No matter what color of candle a church displays on that third Sunday, churches want to highlight the importance of joy in advent season. During a time where depression is at an all-time high and people seem to be in the most despair, this candle offers a bright light during a dark time.
Sometimes known as the Shepherd Candle, this candle reflects the joy that we can expect from the coming of Jesus’ arrival, and through his gift of salvation over all of us as sinners.
During this third week of advent, this Sunday celebrates the passage Philippians 4:4-5. The verse tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always” for “the Lord is near.” In essence, the third week in advent is about us rejoicing in Christ’s first coming, his initial arrival on earth.
It is also known as the Shepherd Candle to highlight the joy the shepherds experienced when they received the good news about Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-20). In the middle of the night, the darkest time of day, when wolves were likelier to lurk, the shepherds encountered angels.
What is biblical joy?
In order to feel the overwhelming joy of the Lord we have to grasp an understanding of biblical joy. Having joy includes feeling in good spirits and a vibrancy of happiness. But joy, in the spiritual meaning of expressing God’s goodness, is so much more than the momentary joy people often associate with the word. It is a deep-rooted, inspired happiness. The Holy Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)
It is an extreme happiness that cannot be deterred by present circumstances. This type of joy comes from God alone. Joy can often be experienced when a Christian thinks about salvation, eternal life, or Jesus. It is an eager anticipation about the wonderful things to come. The shepherds experienced this as they ran to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
What does Scripture says about joy?
- God fills us with joy (Romans 15:13). We cannot will ourselves to experience joy. It comes from God alone. Sure we may have joy momentarily, but it is fleeting . To have a steadfastness of joy we need to seek it from its creator – God.
- It’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The more we invest in spending time with God the more joy we receive. True joy only comes from God, but when we spend more time with him, building relationship with him, we allow him to fill us to abundance with it.
- No one can take joy from us (John 16:22). Given to us by God himself, no one has the ability to rob us of our joy. No matter what circumstances we encounter, no one can take this away. So in those moments when you feel despair, it’s worth questioning are we really going to allow that one moment in the day to rob us of our God given joy?
- Joy rests in things from God – for example: salvation and righteousness (Psalm 51:12) – without God’s salvation we would not have the sacrifice of Jesus and therefore never be able to reach the kingdom, after all we are all sinners and fall ever so short of the
Why is it important to have joy?
Joy is essential to the Christian experience. While we wait for Christ to come again, we don’t have to despair. God has given us a joy that can be taken by no one. Whatever happens in this dark world, we can experience light. As Christians, we experience difficulties differently than the world. We have light even in the darkest moments.
As we await the coming of our saviour, like the shepherds who found joy, we cannot get far without it. So, during this advent season, I implore you to stop seeking fleeting joy in people and things and seek immeasurable joy the Lord.
What will you have joy in this season? Do you have light in your darkness? Perhaps it’s time to seek the light of the world.