This Advent we are doing a blog series to celebrate how our loving God came near and revealed Himself to us in Jesus. So over the next four weeks we will be looking at the themes of Joy, Love, Hope & Peace as we approach Christmas. This is the first blog in the series on Joy.
Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”
I wonder how often we can say’the alongside Mary, centre of my being jumps with exceeding joy’? But then again, I wonder how often we are as keenly aware of God’s presence and activity, as Mary was in that moment.
In a culture that has normalised cynicism, gratefulness is one of the most countercultural places to position ourselves in. It is a spiritual weapon that combats the hopelessness, pessimism and bleakness that so often pervades our cultural moment. As we cultivate rhythms of gratefulness in our lives, our eyes are lifted to the goodness of God all around us (His constant presence and activity), and our hearts our reawakened with joy. Real joy. Not counterfeit momentary highs, but something that rewires our perspective on life. More than that, this gratefulness and joy begins to overflow to the environments we find ourselves in – there’s something contagious about it.
Some friends and I occasionally turn to each other and say, “Gratefulness Alphabet anyone?” at which point the group takes it in turns to say one thing they are thankful for beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Cheesy, I know. And yet, as we’ve laughed together, we’ve experienced God’s Spirit and joy really move in those moments. We’ve found that joy stirs afresh as we recognise and respond to the presence and activity of Jesus all around us.
Gratefulness, and the joy that overflows from it, is not an ignoring of the chaos around us, but is a powerful acknowledgment of Jesus’ presence and activity within, and sovereignty over it. Is that not what this advent and Christmas season is really about?
If you’d like to journey with us this Advent season, you can read our next blog ‘Love’ on Monday 10th December.