Fourth Sunday of Advent
Joy. O Joy, all joys excelling. Joy of every longing heart. Joy to the world! The candle of joy should burst into flame spontaneously, so powerful is the joy of this day—and the anticipation of tonight’s high and holy commemoration of Jesus’ birth.
But there can be no joy without unconditional love. There can be no joy without the unceasing hope for God’s better days. There can be no joy without an abiding peace the defines all our relationships. Joy, the most sought-after prize in this Christmas season, cannot exist without the other three.
But what kind of joy? Unsolicited joy? Matchless joy? I would like to offer “relentless” joy.
I know few things or people that are truly relentless. We all need a break. We all have our limits. We all relent in the face of confrontation or fear or doubt. Even the machines we build to be relentless power down, glitch, freeze, cease up, and eventually fail us.
Which is where Immanuel meets us . . . and meets us with a relentless joy, the joy of a Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. How many times has Jesus sought us out like a shepherd searching for a lost sheep? How many more times will Jesus bind up our injuries, belay our fears, soothe our heaving hearts? How joyous are those moments—how absolutely and relentlessly joyous!
This morning we complete the lit circle of unconditional love, unceasing hope, abiding peace, and relentless joy, because we know that the fulfillment of these is realized in the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, the Lover and Savior of us all.
Kerry Krauss, pastor, Moravian Church,
Sister Bay. Wisconsin