The third theme of Advent is Joy. Christmas is certainly a time in which we think about, sing about, and express joy. The joy which the Scriptures call for, however, is different from the holly jolly spirit of the holidays. The Song of Mary and the words of Zechariah are indicative of this joy.
But in our modern culture we are often quick to rush to joy and bypass all the hardship that makes this joy standout. There must be darkness before light! Historically Advent emphasized this darkness. The tradition was not simply a build-up to Christmas it focused on the darkness before the dawn, it helped to highlight the light of the Incarnation by emphasizing the that “long lay the world in sin and error pinning.” We do well to remember this at Christmas.
Allow the darkness to bring forth an anticipation of the light. “Face the darkness” as one writer has said. In the background of such darkness we will see the light of Christ more clearly!
Here are some artistic elements to help you as you meditate on joy this week. Elements to both listen to, and to read.
- “Joy to the World” by Sufjan Stevens
- “Come All Ye Faithful” by Sovereign Grace Music
- “Joy Has Dawned” by King’s Kaleidoscope
- “Want to Get Into the Christmas Spirit? Face the Darkness” by Tish Harrison Warren
- “Advent vs Countdown to Christmas” by James K.A. Smith
- “The Joy of Christ” by David Filson
- “Sorely Hindered” by Esau McCauley