Daily Devotion - Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This is the third week of the season of Advent.  Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year.  We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath.  This week our theme is "Joy."  

Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. - Mother Theresa 

How many different ways can you describe joy?  Probably as many ways as you can experience it, I would imagine.  The definitions of joy that we find in the dictionary are all over the map, but essentially point to the same thing--an over-the-top feeling, a rush of positive emotion that can nearly overwhelm you when you experience it.  

But when you read Mother Theresa's definition of joy, it seems a tad different, doesn't it?  "Joy is prayer?"  "Joy is strength?"  How is that even possible?  And then she goes on to describe joy like a "net of love" stretched for the purpose of catching souls.  

None of those things sound very joyful--at least not in the way we've defined joy just a moment ago.  They are powerful in and of themselves, mind you, but I would venture to say that most of us would not necessarily consider them joy-inducing.  

Perhaps, and this is probably very likely, Mother Theresa's definition of joy is shaped by radical selflessness.  Think about it... 

When, like Mother Theresa, you live and minister to the lost and broken for your entire life, when you have to rely on the kindness of others to eat, and pay your bills and provide for the needy, when you feel weak, inadequate and too tired for the task at hand... 

Then joy could look a lot like prayer, and it would definitely look a lot like strength for the journey.  

Not to mention finding deep reservoirs of love within you to keep on giving to those that so desperately need to know Jesus---that could give you some serious joy if you felt like you had nothing left to give.  

Maybe our definitions of joy need to be wrecked a bit.  Maybe we need to learn to find joy in simple acts of selfless sacrifice, of letting go of our pride, our confidence and comfort and learn to live instead on the edge of faith where we must learn to rely fully on God.  

May you discover joy in the most unlikely places of service and sacrifice today and every day.  May you find that you have within you an infinite capacity to love and show the joy of Jesus to the world.  May you experience joy in ways you never thought possible.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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