Advent Joy – Advent 3

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
  Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
~Psalm 126:2

I love Advent.

Like I really love Advent, it’s one of my favorite seasons in the church. And this coming Sunday is the third Sunday in Advent, the Sunday where we light the Advent candle symbolizing “joy”.

And sometimes, in all of my joy and excitement with Advent, I wonder if I’m not a bit of a joy-killer.

Because from Thanksgiving on, if you leave your house you will likely be bombarded with Christmas music. It’s on the radio. I hear it as I shop for groceries. Unsurprisingly, Christmas music is hard to escape.

And so if you need a break from Christmas music, come worship with us on a Sunday during Advent.

So this is why I feel like I kill some of the joy on our this third Sunday of Advent. Because for me, and for many who love this season, Advent isn’t Christmas – it’s the preparing for Christmas.

Collecting Baby Jesuses

This is also why when we decorated the church a few weeks ago, I asked that any Baby Jesus that could be taken from a nativity be brought to my office.

Jesus isn’t in the nativity yet, because he’s not born yet! Our council laughed at my request, but I actually startled myself this morning. I opened my desk drawer to find a Baby Jesus nestled among some papers and gasped. For a moment I had forgotten my collection.

It was startling.

Finding Joy in Advent

And maybe I’m a little intense with my liturgical-correctness. But the truth is, it’s because I’m just so excited for our Savior’s birth. I want to prepare, i want to spend these 4 Sundays of Advent celebrating this time of waiting. And this pre-Christmas Day season is really it’s own thing, in many ways completely separate from the cultural and commercial Christmas season (there’s a wonderful blog on the WELCA website around this too).

We also leave up our Christmas decorations for 12 days after Christmas! (Did you know the 12 days actually starts on Christmas day?) I blast Christmas carols through most of January.

Joyous Compromises

And so in my not-yet-Christmas joy-killing, I also recognize that not everyone is as invested in these 4 Sundays of waiting. Because of this, I try to focus on being joy-finding.

Advent is about getting ready for Christmas of course! And part of that getting ready is having nativities that have a non-removable Baby Jesus. Or maybe part of this getting ready is the excitement we find when we sing Christmas carols together.

And so we find ways. We’re hosting a beer & carols event at one of our local restaurants the Saturday before Christmas as a way to meet this need for song and joy.

We hosted a Smorgasbord at our church on the first Sunday of Advent, which both marks this season and the 55th anniversary of our congregation’s founding.

And for those of us who can’t handle all the Christmas music just yet, instead of worship is filled with songs of Advent. Of waiting for our Savior to come, as we sing of this Son of God, this God with us, this Emmanuel, this baby who we just can’t wait for.

I’m so excited!

What are your favorite Advent traditions? How do you prepare for the coming Christmas holiday? How do you share joy with those around you?

Pastor Megan Filer