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“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

This Sunday we will be lighting the candle of “Joy” and entering the final week before Christmas. The colour of the candle we light is pink because the colour rose is the liturgical colour for joy or rejoicing. It is meant to remind us of the joy experienced when Jesus was born and the joy we continue to experience today.

Spiritual Joy is transformational. It is not the same as being happy. Happiness comes and goes based on our circumstances. However, spiritual Joy is based on our relationship with Jesus. This kind of joy is based on “the experience of knowing God’s unconditional love and that no matter the heartache, no one can take this joy away”.  

Spiritual Joy is about celebrating the goodness and greatness of God. St Augustine is quoted as saying, “The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot”.   This is the kind of Joy that runs underneath all our Christmas celebrations. It remains in our happiness and in those times of disappointment, family quarrels or a tasty Christmas feast.

So, how do we cultivate spiritual Joy? There are a lot of good resources on the  Faith Formation Ministries Faith Project website under Celebrating. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Worship: with your whole heart, soul, mind, voice, and posture. At home and in the car, we can play Christmas carols. We have the opportunity to worship corporately Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. We can worship as we walk through a part of God’s creation. There are many ways to worship God who sent Jesus his son to rescue us.
  2. Look for the good things in a world filled with bad and anxiety producing news, it is good to look for God’s surprises and celebrate them.
  3. Show hospitality by sharing with others your Christmas traditions and celebrations. Who is seated at your table this Christmas season? With whom are you sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth? Who are you giving to?
  4. Feasting: this is often overlooked as a spiritual practice, yet it is an important part of celebration and joy. Feasting is more than special meals. It may include singing, dancing, playing a game and snacking. Feasting is about exercising our ability to see and feel goodness in the simple gifts of God.

How will you join with the Shepherds who left the stable rejoicing at the birth of Jesus Christ?

‘Joy to the world the Lord has come, let earth receive her king”

Resources used for this blog post can be found under  Celebration Resources on the Faith Practices website. They include the articles by Chris Schoon, Richard Foster, Dorothy Greco, Henri Nouwen Society and Paul E. Detterman.