Rejoice in the Lord always;
When I was a child, Christmas time—that whole span of the year that begins sometime after Halloween and goes through New Year’s Day—was the best part of the year. Music, decorations, food, and events that were anticipated for months beforehand became a reality and my family relished it fully. I still do. So much so, that sometimes Christmas Day is a bit of a letdown. It is not the arrival of something special, but rather the signal of an end to celebration. As the old saying goes “anticipation is half the pleasure.” German gets it better. Its old saying says: “Anticipation (Forejoy) is the best joy.” When a German looks forward to something, they say they are “rejoicing on it.”
So what is Joy? Scientists and philosophers claim that our happiness—our joy—depends on a sense of well-being. Having our anticipations and desires fulfilled. Eastern philosophies claim it is all about contentment. Being at peace with our circumstances. Every language tends to distinguish between concepts like happiness, contentment, and joy, so it seems that Paul has something more special in mind. In our current imperfect world the way it is, this is often closely tied into the idea of hope. There is joy in hoping that things will be better. That is why “forejoy” seems to be the best joy. We may not think there is anything better to be had.
Our hopes are so infrequently fulfilled. Where does our Hope rest? Hope in and of itself is not enough. Try promising people hope without spelling out what you mean, and you will be setting yourself up for impossible expectations.
For believers, Christmas is a source of joy because our hope has been fulfilled, even as we wait for the full disclosure of that hope. We have meaning in life. We have a promise of a future, but we have more than that. We have the down payment. We have the assurance of the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Savior.
Paul calls for us to “rejoice in the Lord.” But other than celebrating Advent every year; how do we practically rejoice in the Lord always? -->