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Advent Week 3: JOY

Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, are days of great preparation. We prepare lists of gifts to purchase, groceries to buy, and parties to attend. There are lists of chores to be done from cleaning and decorating the house and yard to mailing Christmas cards and wrapping gifts. Advent—the four craziest weeks of the year! Is this what it means to prepare for Jesus’ birth? What about preparing our hearts for Christmas?

This year’s Advent Faith Talk series is meant to give you ideas to prepare your hearts for Christmas. Each week will have four Scripture passages and a theme for the week (that matches the theme of Sunday’s service) along with activity ideas for home, church, and community.

Read This Week: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:19-34

Theme for the Week: Joy

Advent is a season of waiting. For children each day’s (slow!) passing means Christmas is one day closer. Presents under the tree, baking cookies, and other special Christmas traditions all add to the expectant waiting for the big day. It is hard to wait patiently!

As God’s people waited for Jesus, they endured much suffering. The joyful hope of the promised Messiah sustained them. And what joy welcomed baby Jesus! The angels announced to the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY…”. When the wise men saw the star that led them to Jesus, ”they rejoiced exceedingly with great JOY”! John the Baptist, declared that the coming of Jesus caused his “JOY to be complete.”

The coming of Jesus is a joyful culmination to generations of waiting and watching. We have reason to celebrate the joy of the coming of our Savior and Lord.

Do Together: One of the distinguishing characteristics of God’s people is JOY! Joy is different than mere happiness, which comes and goes with circumstances. Plan a joyous Christmas celebration for your family. Ask each member of the family to write on a slip of paper how they would like to celebrate the joy of Christ’s birth. Having cake? Eating ice cream in front of the fireplace? Dancing together? Place the slips of paper in a bowl and then read them aloud. Can you tell who wrote each suggestion? Use those ideas to make a plan for a simple party to celebrate Jesus’ birth together that fits your family. The theme for the party is JOY!

Sing Together: Joy to the World!

Church Family Focus: Share the joy of Christ’s birth with your church family by expressing your appreciation for your church family by sending notes, emails, or making phone calls to friends and those who lead and teach your kids. Plan to attend the Christmas Eve services next Sunday.

Community Focus: Share Christmas joy with your neighbors. Make cards for neighbors and deliver them with a little treat—even a simple candy cane is fun.

Pray Together: Ask God to give you joy in him, no matter what the circumstances. Express your joy that Christ came: Immanuel, God with us! Pray for loved ones who don’t know Jesus yet.