SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:10-12, Ezekiel 34:12

The first Sunday, when we lit the hope candle, we talked about our need for rescue. Last Sunday, when we lit the love candle, we talked about our Rescuer that indeed had come so that we might know God’s love. This Sunday, as we light the candle of joy, we remember the joy that came to the shepherds long ago and the joy that we can have because our Savior came.

In the darkness of the night, some shepherds were watching their sheep. When all of a sudden, the darkness was broken with the radiant light of heaven. An angel spoke to them saying, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Of all the people that God could have shared the news of Jesus’ birth with first, God chose these shepherds. They probably were not the smartest or the most powerful folks. Why do you think God chose to tell a few shepherds first of this sacred, world changing news? Maybe it was because the shepherds understood what it was like to leave their homes to dwell with their sheep. Maybe it was because the shepherds understood that to get their flock to follow
them, they had to live among them, day in and day out.

The Lord has often been given the name “The Good Shepherd”. And maybe this is a hard name for us to grasp now, because we don’t understand a great deal about the shepherding life any more. But we do know that the shepherd protected the sheep, led them to places of nourishment and refreshment, and eventually guided them home. The shepherd cared for them because they belonged to him.

In Ezekiel 34:12 it says, “As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for My flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy and dark day.” Our Rescuer, our Shepherd has come to save us from all the places where we’ve been scattered and lost. Jesus has come to redeem us. And so, we can rejoice! We can have joy because our God doesn’t ask us to go about life alone. He wants
us to follow after Him and walk in His ways so desperately, that He left the heavens above to wander the wilderness with us. We don’t have to worry about our joy coming and going in waves, because ours is a forever joy. Our joy is everlasting, because God abides with us always.

We come to this third Sunday of Advent to dwell in delight. To rest from pursuits of short lived happiness. To abide in
the everlasting joy of God as we light this candle. We remember the joy that came in Christ, the joy that continually
comes as God’s presence dwells among us and the joy of all joys that is still yet to come.

What is joy?
What makes you happy? What makes you joyful? What is the difference?
Who would you have expected God to tell first that the promised Rescuer had come?
What is the greatest news that anyone has ever shared with you? What did you want to do in response?
Who would you say is the most joyful person you know? How do they live that shows their hearts are full of joy?
What keeps us from living lives marked by joy?
Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of joy this season? Make a card (and/or an ornament) for that
person and deliver it this week.

Josh Kleinfeld