Tag Archives: Advent

Advent – Week Three JOY

This week Ron and I lit the third candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing JOY. It joined the lights of HOPE and PEACE.

     One of the most beloved Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World” was printed originally in 1719 in a collection written by Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David: Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and applied to the Christian State and Worship. It wasn’t written for Christmas.

     In this hymn, Watts asks nations to rejoice because God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel has delivered salvation.

1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

2 Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

4 He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love,
and wonders of His love,
and wonders, wonders of His love

     The short book of Philippians is one of my favorites in the Bible.

     The Apostle Paul references ‘joy’ or ‘rejoicing’ over a dozen times in the letter to his friends in Philippi. When he wrote this letter, he was under Roman house arrest, shackled 24/7 to a Roman guard. Not a very joyous place to be!

     Obviously, Paul had figured out having joy is not dependent on being in pleasant circumstances. I imagine he would have agreed with Henri Nouwen:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

     I’ve been struggling lately with the matter of joy, in a season when I must decide to keep choosing joy daily. The decision to “choose joy” can be difficult and confusing. In Thursday’s post, I will attempt to unpack the matter of joy a bit more. Until then…

Blessings to all as we rejoice in the fact: “the Lord is come…”

Sue Reeve

Advent – Week One HOPE

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.  Romans. 15:13

     Wow, it’s hard to believe! Thanksgiving 2018 is now history, and we’ve entered the Christmas season.

     If you know me well, you know I love everything Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the scents of the season fill me with excitement—and, I admit, sometimes, exhaustion.

     In my non-liturgical faith tradition, little emphasis was placed on Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Last year, I decided to download an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th. Ironically, our pastors also chose to place emphasis on Advent, and each Sunday lit a candle on an Advent wreath.

     I loved my newfound dimension of Christmas, delving more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. I determined to learn more about the liturgical tradition and wanted to create an Advent wreath for our home this year.

     During December, I will be placing emphasis on Advent in my personal devotions and in the Listening on the Journey… blog posts. Each week, my focus will be on traditional themes of Advent:

     Week One, the candle, known as The Prophets’ Candle, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, The Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing FAITH;

     Week Three, The Shepherds’ Candle, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, The Angel’s Candle, symbolizing PEACE.

     On Christmas Eve, we’ll have our two young grandkids light a fifth, taller candle, which will be symbolic of Jesus.

     The Jewish nation hoped and waited for a savior for a very long time. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold their Messiah’s birth,

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The ancient Christmas hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel summarizes beautifully the hope of the prophets:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

     The first week of Advent focuses on the HOPE of Christmas—the arrival of Immanuel (also spelled Emmanuel) through the mystery of the incarnation.

Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents…[1]

     In Thursday’s post, I will focus further on the importance of the hope of Emmanuel in our lives today. Until then,

Blessings as you ponder the mystery of the incarnation and the hope of Christmas…

Sue Reeve

  1. Joseph Scheumann, www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-truths-about-the-incarnation

Seeing Jesus Anew on the Sea of Galilee

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1 & 14

     If I were asked what words have had the greatest impact on my life, I would be quick to answer, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I learned those words through a simple children’s song that’s packed with enormous theological truth. “Jesus Loves Me,” written by two sisters, Anna and Susan Warner, has had a profound influence on young and old alike since its publication in the late 1800’s.

     My faith has pivoted on those simple words since childhood.

     Those words form the foundation on which my life has been built.

     Those words have lighted my life’s darkest nights.

     Those words have motivated my best life choices. And, if honest instead of pious, I admit I’ve ignored those words when making some of my ‘not-so-good’ choices.

     Those words have been the compass guiding me through forests of uncertainty.

     I’ve sung these words to my two daughters.

     I still sing these words to my two youngest grandchildren. All five have heard them sung by their Grandma Susie.

     I’ve requested these simple words will one day be sung at my memorial service.

     Yes, I know Jesus loves me, and I know I love Jesus!

     My love for Jesus has never felt more real than it did when we spent time recently in the region of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

     For the past several weeks I’ve been writing blog posts about our Holy Land trip in early autumn 2016. I’ve talked about our time in Tel Aviv, a progressive hub of commerce. Several of my posts discussed powerful moments we spent in Jerusalem, an ancient city, crucial to three major world religions. I attempted to describe the personal impact of Jerusalem in my faith journey, knowing my attempt to capture our Jerusalem experience with appropriate words is absolutely inadequate.

     When I was a kid, I categorized and then prioritized food placed on my plate. I always saved my favorite food until last. Although every part of our trip to Israel was important and nourishing, the best part for me was the three days we spent in the Galilean region. I’ve decided to save posts describing those days until last.

     During the month of December, a season of Advent when Christians anticipate celebrating the birth of the Messiah, I want to share with you some of the ways in which Jesus became more vibrant than ever to me—ways in which my perspective of The Word [who] became flesh and made his dwelling among humankind expanded.

     In the region of the Galilee where Jesus walked with friends, healed the sick and restored dignity to the disenfranchised, I caught a fresh glimpse of his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

     I hope you’ll want to come along with me to the region of Galilee.

Sue Reeve


Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee