Tag Archives: hope

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 today’s most beloved Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World” was printed originally in 1719 in a collection written by Isaac Watts.

     Even though Mr. Watts didn’t intend his hymn to be a Christmas carol, the theme of “joy” surely fits when thinking about the arrival of Emmanuel.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. (Luke 2:8-10 NIV)

     The short New Testament book of Philippians is one of my favorites.

     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 isn’t 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.

     The decision to “choose joy” can be difficult and confusing. In Thursday’s post, I unpack the matter of joy a bit more. Until then, rejoice with me as we consider the lyrics of Joy to the World

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

May your hearts and homes be filled with Joy this third week of Advent…

Sue Reeve

P.S. Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 17th, you’ll be receiving a special notification from Listening on the Journey… Please be sure and open and follow the instructions for a Christmastime giveaway.

Hope Helps Me Hang On…

“Every day I put hope on the line.”

(attributed to Eugene Peterson)

     In Monday’s post, the first of Advent season, we recalled the hope of the nation of Israel. For hundreds of years, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah.

     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 the 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)

     “Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. These prophecies are specific enough that the mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling even a handful of them, let alone all of them, is staggeringly improbable—if not impossible.[1]

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

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.

     While the Jewish nation stumbled through many dark seasons, hope concerning the coming Messiah helped many hang on to their faith. Others lost or discounted the power of hope. They ignored the prophets’ words. Instead, they chose to listen to voices that led them into even deeper darkness.

     Hope is huge! Hope helps you and me hold on during dark days, or even long, dismal, seemingly hopeless seasons.

May hope be kindled in your heart this holy season of Advent…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html

Advent – Week One HOPE

As I enter through the gates of thanksgiving into the kingdom of Advent, reign in love on the throne of my heart… Amen

(Centering Prayers, Peter Traben Haas)

     Thanksgiving arrived late on the 2019 calendar. At our house, the Christmas tree was up and much of the house was already decorated on Thanksgiving Day. Because some family members will not be with us for Christmas, following dessert, we transitioned from Thanksgiving into a mini-Christmas celebration.

Back row: left to right: younger daughter, Sarah, her hubby, Brandon; son-in-law Jon and older daughter, Angie; my mom, Kathryn; second granddaughter, Mackenzie and boyfriend, Gavin; Sue, Ron. Front row: left to right: younger grandson, Reeve, youngest granddaughter, Emmi; Merci, our pooch, and Freddie, Angie & Jon’s dog, all decked out in their Christmas outfits. Missing: oldest granddaughter, Sydney and her boyfriend, Bryan, and older grandson, Jackson. Love, love, love, my people!!

     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. A couple years ago, I downloaded an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th.

     I loved this newfound dimension of Christmas and determined I’d delve more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. Last year I created an Advent wreath for our home as well as blogged about each week’s Advent theme.

     During December 2019, I will be reprinting many of those posts in the Listening on the Journey… blog. Each week, the focus will be on a traditional theme of Advent:

     There are variations of the order in which each week is symbolized. This order may differ from the one you’re using. The weekly designations I’ll use are:

     Week One, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, symbolizing PEACE;

     Week Three, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, symbolizing LOVE.

     On Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids will light a fifth, taller candle, symbolic of Jesus, the true reason for this lovely season.

     This first week of Advent reminds us of the long-hoped-for Messiah, the arrival of Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel), 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. 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