Third Advent Sunday: Joy!

December 13

Bible Portion: Matthew 2:10-11 (NIV): “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Focus:  …they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him (v.11).

Reflect: We lay on our backs on flat slabs of lava rock. The August midnight skies held the promise of shooting stars. Far from the distracting city lights of Nairobi, we gazed up into the deep, dark African blue. Stars never looked so good to me! The Milky Way shone intensely bright—uncountable stars flung by the hand of God across a vast expanse. Collectively, we gasped. Wonder and awe! Unforgettable joy!

I quietly considered whether I should stand guard for leopards or other dangers of the wild night. The carefree laughter of happy children—my host-family’s pride—abated fear. “Look! There’s another one!” little Mikey shouted. Squealing voices danced in pleasure at the sight of so many shooting stars lighting up the sky. It seemed that even the heavens danced for God’s great pleasure …and for our joy!

Wise men—number unknown—came seeking the toddler King of Kings. They traveled from afar. Guided by starlight, they traced the constellations and marker planets that mariners seek today in night navigation. To Jerusalem …and beyond! They finally came to the place where the young child was. No billboards along the way. No slogans. No one-page ads pointing This way to the Saviour of the World. Just genuine faith in real action. Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus. Faithful submission finds the Child born to be King—born to die for sinners …like me. Light in our deep darkness!

What nocturnal terrors faced the Wise Men? The Gospels remain silent. Did they fear the dark? Or, did they focus, instead, on God’s light to guide them safely to Jesus? They knew dark days; as do we. They trusted God’s light; and so must we. In a pandemic season, Advent lends biting reality—real urgency—to the pilgrim’s search for Jesus. Fear grips—no, paralyzes—hearts. Yet, toxic anxiety must thaw before the Saviour. Distress, dread, depression, despair; each dissolves in him. Fear be gone, worship begin! They bow before their King. For Wise Men, Christ’s Light shines into an uncertain future, even as the days darken. In worship, we bow before the King. Resting in Jesus, we smile at every tomorrow.  

Today, pop songs mimic Christmas joy. As a boy, the first hit I learned was by Perry Como. Mellifluously, he crooned, “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket.” The Wise Men followed a star and hid Christ in their hearts. In 1719, Isaac Watts penned an 18th century hymn. It never appeared in any Top 10 Disco Charts. Instead, it found—still finds—a place in the hearts of Jesus-followers: “Joy to the World; the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing.” This Advent season, let the promise of our coming King—light eternal—illuminate your heart with joy.

Consider: What gifts do you bring to Jesus in your worship, today? If all you have is shame and guilt, will you lay them before the One who takes you as you are? With joy, will you accept his free forgiveness?  

Pray: Lord Jesus, Light in our Darkness, we await your coming as King Eternal. Holy Spirit, equip us to speak your Word of hope and joy to those you place around us. In life and lip, cause your light to shine in and through us in the wonder of your praise. Strengthen us to live in simple humility. Our hearts bow to worship you. Lifter of our heads, we raise our hands in praise. Fill us again with joy in Jesus. Amen.

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