Scripture: But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born – Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:10-11)
You will leave Babylon with joy: you will be led out of the city in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into singing, and the trees will shout for joy. (Isaiah 55:12)
Meditation: C. S. Lewis once wrote that “joy is the serious business of heaven.” My understanding of that “serious business” grew substantially as I served on Fredericksburg Baptist’s 1995 mission team to Prague.
When the first request for team members came out in the church newsletter I felt a tug at my heart. But I quickly talked myself out of it. “I probably don’t have enough vacation days at work,” I thought, “and Dad is really sick, and it probably costs too much.” A day or two later a good friend and member of the congregation, called and said, “I think you should apply for the Prague mission team.” Her calling “out of the blue” caused me to open my heart and mind again to that possibility, and the result was great, great joy for me.
The joys were almost too many to count—seeing the beautiful, old, and historic city of Prague; helping to renovate the site for the International Baptist Theological Seminary; bonding with church members I hadn’t known well before; and meeting Christian people from many countries. Then there were the joys of opening my suitcase to find a note for each day from my husband and daughters; receiving notes from church members; and “running into” an old friend from our former church in Phoenix who was also working at the seminary. I think the very apex of my joy there came one evening as we all sat on the patio and sang familiar hymns in our varied languages. “Amazing Grace” is even more beautiful when the English is sung together with Czech, German, Russian, and Italian. I thought to myself that this must be part of what heaven will be like. I didn’t want the evening to end.
Not long after the team returned to Fredericksburg, my friend and I had lunch together and I said to her, “What if you hadn’t obeyed the prompting of God’s Spirit to call and encourage me to go to Prague? I would have missed out on all that joy.” She offered that she thought that we all probably miss out on lots of joy because we fail to listen and respond to many of the Spirit’s callings in our lives. Think of what we miss.
So as you stand on the brink of Christmas 2019, give yourself the gift of deep and lasting joy by inviting Christ into your life if you’ve never done that before, and by listening for God’s intimate dialogue with you through scripture, prayer and meditation, sermons, books, music, the words of fellow Christians, etc., etc. Then make a New Year’s resolution to respond to those tugs at your heart, perhaps to become involved in one of the new ministries of the church, or perhaps in one of longstanding. Either way, God is eagerly waiting to bless you with joy!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You that the serious business of heaven and of heaven on earth is joy. Now help us to get serious about this serious business, for Your glory and our sakes. Amen.
For additional information about our Advent devotions and their authors, click here.