THE CANDLE OF JOY
Also known as the Shepherd Candle, this candle reflects the joy that comes through Jesus’ arrival, and the salvation He has gifted us.
During this third week of Advent, this Sunday celebrates the passage Philippians 4:4-5, its verses extolling readers to “rejoice” for “indeed the Lord is near.”
In other words, this week celebrates the joy of Christ’s coming to earth. Churches want to highlight the importance of joy in the Advent season. During a time where depression is at an all-time high and people seem to be in the most despair, this candle offers a bright light during a dark time.
It is also known as the Shepherd Candle to highlight the joy the shepherds experienced when they received the good news about Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-20). During the middle of the night, the darkest time, the shepherds encountered angels.
What does the Bible say about Joy?
Biblical joy goes far beyond momentary happiness, for example the happiness a child might experience when they unwrap a gift that they’d hoped for on Christmas day.
It is an extreme happiness that cannot be deterred by present circumstances. This type of joy comes from God alone. Joy can often be experienced when a Christian thinks about salvation, eternal life, or Jesus.
It is an eager anticipation about wonderful things to come. The shepherds experienced this as they ran to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
The Bible tells us that:
• God fills us with joy (Romans 15:13). We cannot will ourselves to experience joy. It comes from God alone.
• It’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We experience more joy when we spend time with God. We have to keep in mind that joy only comes from God, and when we spend more time with Him, we allow Him to fill us with more of it.
• No one can take joy from us (John 16:22). Given to us by God Himself, no one has the ability to rob us of our joy. No matter what circumstances we encounter, no one can take this away.
• Joy rests in things from God such as salvation and righteousness (Psalm 51:12).
Joy appears more than 100 times in the Bible.
Why Does This Matter?
This matters because, while we wait for Christ to come again, we don’t have to despair. God has given us a joy that no one can take away. No matter what happens in this dark world, we can experience light. We experience difficulties differently than the world. We have light even in the darkest moments.
Joy is essential to the Christian experience. We cannot get far without it, and we need it as we, like the shepherds, anticipate the coming of our Savior.