On this third Sunday in Advent is a time of joy, so rejoice! As it says in Isaiah:
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
"Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
"A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
"And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
As we rush or are being pushed to rush towards Christmas, it is on this Sunday that we are reminded to rejoice.
How often DO we rejoice? How often do we ALLOW ourselves to be joyful?
I have to admit that I am constantly rushing. I seem to always be on the move. I must to this. I must get to that. It NEEDS to be done.
Where is there time to rejoice and find joy?
I was determined that today, this Sunday of Joy, I would find it. It meant changing plans. It meant doing things a little differently. It meant a little extra work, but it was worth it.
Instead of the typical Sunday, my family and I got into the car on Sunday morning and drove to a place where we find joy. A place where I can find peace and focus on the joy of family and nature; even if it was for just a few hours...
So I drove from our home in NJ to Skytop, PA. Where for a few precious hours we sat by the fire and walked the grounds. (Although it was much too windy to do all the hiking I had hoped we might be able to.) We were greeted in the parking lot by Robert, a bellman, who knows us by sight and greeted us with...Joy. And before we left he shared with us the joyous news of the birth of his first grandchild. How blessed are we to be able to be part of his joy on this day. Something we would not have experienced if I did not make the decision to switch up the typical Sunday business and allow joy to flow.
I may be back home now...in the "real" world. I may have let some of the joy seep out of me as I prepared for a stressful work week. But today I had joy. I rejoice in that. And so should you.
Take time to rejoice. Take time to find joy in places around you where you might least expect it. Be strong, do not fear! Find joy and REJOICE!