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Hope, Joy, Peace

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Perhaps it's because of the season, but I see a connection between this verse and Advent for the first time today. We've talked about hope and peace for the last two Sundays of Advent; today, we will light the third candle, the pink or rose, and discuss joy. All three of these attributes embody who God is, what Jesus–the awaited Messiah brought–and what Jesus will bring in the fulfillment of scripture when he returns.

Hope: In Jesus Christ, we have the hope. In God, coming to earth in human form, a pure sacrifice, he bore our sins to the cross, healing the rift caused by man's sinfulness. There's also the future hope when Christ returns, good triumphs over evil, and all things are restored. That promised time in the book of Revelation, when "God himself… will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." (Rev. 21:3-4) A future when we who have submitted ourselves to Christ will be reunited with Christ in glory.

Peace: In Jesus, we have three kinds of peace—the peace with God found in our repentance and his forgiveness. The peace of God that enfolds us–that serenity we find–amid the chaos of life, this is the peace Paul speaks of, "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7) Finally, through Christ, we can experience peace with others and find healing and reconciliation that would otherwise be impossible.

Joy: In Jesus, we can have joy–more than simple happiness, we can have zealous joy. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy has a spiritual permanency. Because God is unchanging, we can return to rejoicing in God's presence–whatever our circumstances. It was this joy with which Israel could turn while in exile. It is the promise given to Isaiah by God, his "good news to the oppressed," in which they could find comfort, "to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations." (Isa. 61:1-4)

In this time between Christ's first coming and his return, we are called to live as his disciples. We are to rejoice in Christ's hope, peace, and joy and share it with others. Taking those gifts, he has so freely given and preparing the world for his coming. We are to be images of Christ in our words and actions, showing justice, compassion, kindness, tenderness, mercy, and forgiveness to each other.

God, our source of all hope, fills us with joy and peace in believing so that we may abound in your hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Fill us with your boundless joy, even amid challenges and uncertainty. Let your laughter dance in our hearts, dispelling darkness and doubt. Grant us your perfect peace, a soothing balm for our anxieties, and a steady compass in the storms of life. May your hope blossom within us, a vibrant flame that consumes despair and illuminates the path ahead. Let it be an anchor for our weary souls, a promise of brighter days to come. Empower us with your Holy Spirit, the divine catalyst that ignites our faith and fuels our hope. Grant us strength and courage to face obstacles with unwavering resolve and wisdom to navigate the complexities of life. May your blessing rest upon all your children. Fill the hearts of believers with your overflowing peace and joy, let hope blossom even in the harshest soil, and grant understanding and acceptance to those who are lost or struggling. As we walk in the footsteps of Christ, may we be instruments of your hope in the world. Through acts of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, let us embody your love and share your hope with all we encounter. May our lives be a testament to the power of your grace and a beacon of inspiration for others. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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