Advent Week 3 – Joy
The focus of this third week of advent is joy. What is joy? Is it happy? Does it depend on circumstances?
The writing of Nehemiah records the rebuilding of the wall around the city of Jerusalem after the people returned from captivity in Babylon. The wall was finished in fifty-two days and the people gathered together to hear Ezra read the word of the Lord to them. This is what happened during that reading.
8They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage. 9Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” 11And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.Nehemiah 8:8-12
As I read this passage, several things stand out to me. First, they were reading the word of the Lord which at that time was the Law of Moses. Today, it would be the whole of scripture, both New and Old Testaments. Secondly, they explained scripture and helped people to understand what was being read. Too often we don’t understand what we read which prevent us from knowing joy. Finally, the understanding of God’s word brought them great joy which in turn became their strength.
Today I am posing some questions for us to consider. Do you understand what is being read? If not, do you pursue understandig? Does the word fill you with joy? If not, why?
Joy is not a commodity we can be satisfied to live without. It is necessary! Join me this week as I explore what it is and how it can be found!