Advent Week 3. The third candle in the Advent Wreath represents JOY: The Joy that comes with knowing that God keeps His promises, and especially the promise recorded by the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel–God with us. Matthew 1:23 (quoting Isaiah 7:14)
The shepherds were in the fields outside Bethlehem, watching over their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said:
Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy! The Savior has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David. And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth. Luke 2:10-12
A host of angels in the heavens sang this message of joy:
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all… (Luke 2:14)
On the children’s advent calendar, the Three Wise Men and their entourage (represented by two camels) follow a bright star (upper left on the calendar) to find the baby Jesus.
Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9
Church of the Nativity (built above the traditional birthplace of Jesus), Bethlehem 12-14-2013 Photo Credit: Mike of Educational Opportunities Tours
We feel great joy as we celebrate the birth of Christ on that cold night in Bethlehem so many years ago. This joy comes with knowing that God keeps His promises.
Our choir sang of that JOY in a Christmas Cantata by John Purifoy during today’s morning service:
Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Joy to the World
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
Songs of the Angels
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!
One year ago, I was in Bethlehem in Israel with six friends and Mike, our tour guide from Educational Opportunities.
Janice at the manger scene and Christmas tree in Bethlehem square, December, 2012
This week, Mike is leading another tour group in Israel, and it is snowing. Look for pictures and a video at https://www.facebook.com/mike.eotours
Joy to the world. Peace on earth.