In the season of advent, the candle of joy is the shepherd candle because of the joyful way the shepherds responded to the good news they heard. My daughter says that the Shepherd candle is her favorite candle. I tend to agree with her. It is the pink candle and highlights the joy of the season. Joy must be shared with others, it can't be kept secret. Christmas is a season for sharing. Most charities show an increase in participation at Christmas. All of the sharing is evidence of the utter joy Jesus brought to earth.
When I think of joy in its purest sense, I think of new believers. They seem to exude a glow that sparkles throughout their faces. The reality of their salvation through Christ can best be described as contagious joy. Joy is a gift from God. It results from knowing God. It doesn't come form our circumstances.
Paul was one of the most joyful apostles. His letter to the Philippians is all about the joy that became his through Christ. He told us to rejoice all the time. Philippians 4:4 says; Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice! Paul's joy was apparent in very grim circumstances. He wrote the letter from his prison in Rome where he sat on death row. He definitely didn't need to wait for his wildest dreams to come true in order to find exuberant joy. Joy doesn't flow out of circumstances. It's source is much deeper than what is happening on the outside of us. In fact, the most joyful people I have met have overflowed in joy in spite of some of the most difficult circumstances.
During this season of Advent, we can receive the gift of joy or squelch it's power to energize our Christmas. Joy is a gift from God, but we must take time to be with Him in order to receive the joy of knowing Him. You can't buy joy, you can muster up joy. Real, genuine joy is a result of being loved by God. It is the fragrance of being in His presence.
In the busy Christmas shopping, baking, decorating, burning yourself out...you could use some real joy. Your shopping safari will turn into a joyful celebration when you spend time with God while you shop. Ask Him to help you find just the things you need at just the right prices. Invite His presence into your world of Christmas and be amazed by the joy it will bring into your life.
You may be like the shepherds, experiencing your same old day to day working environment. You are feeling just like last year, down to the wire and still a lot of shopping to do. Suddenly you become afraid. Afraid that Christmas will be here and will reveal what a failure you are at getting the right size, finding a beloved gift, not burning the Christmas dinner. When suddenly the message of Christmas bursts through into your life. You open your heart to the angel's message and you stop what you are doing and go to be with Jesus. After the shepherds saw Jesus, they didn't go back to their sheep watching life right away. They ran through the town of Bethlehem and shouted the good news to everyone they met. Jesus Christ is born!
Stop right now and light one candle for joy. Enjoy the joyfilled message of Christmas. Recognize that though you are a lowly shepherd, Jesus came to earth to be with you. Don't miss the joy that being with Jesus brings. Don't be surprised if you spend time with Jesus and other people begin to notice that you are filled with joy. Remember what your Sunday School teacher taught you is true, real joy comes from ordering your life: Jesus first, then others, then you.