Sounding Joy
Third Sunday of Advent
Psalm 126 / 1 Thessalonians 5:16-28

Today we celebrate the joy that came with the birth of Jesus, the birth we await to celebrate in the season of Advent.  Our Psalmist writes of a harvest of joy that includes laughter, shouts of joy, and rejoicing in the great things the Lord has done.

What joy does the Christ child bring to us?  What does it mean to have joy in the Lord?

We will explore these questions, but first, let’s continue with our third story in our Storybook Advent reading, “Sounding Joy,” by Ellie Holcomb.


In this storybook, the author explores the question, what does joy sound like?  I’m not sure that I had ever considered what joy sounds like, rather I’ve always related to what it feels like, right?  So I really enjoyed thinking about the sounds of joy brought to us in this story.

When we think of that silent night, when Christ was born, what sounds would have been heard, and how would we have identified them with joy, I wonder?

Last week, we looked at what the birds heard, the cooing, and the message received in the cooing was certainly a joy, wasn’t it?  I mean what more joyous message could we hear than the sound of peace?

In our story today, we learn that there was a sound of wings, angels’ wings.  Let’s pause just a moment, and listen for what we think the sound of wings would sound like to us, (pause) … and then let’s imagine that sound in a bright light.  Would you think of that sound, that image as joy?

And what about angels singing!  Certainly that sounds like joy!  Don’t we experience it every time we hear Alex and Bradley sing?  What about when we hear Donna play the organ and the piano or when Eddy plays the violin?  And wasn’t there joy in the bells we heard ringing last Sunday?  I would say yes!  And I know you heard it too, because I heard all of you exclaiming after the service about how wonderful it was, indeed you were rejoicing with shouts of joy.

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he told them to rejoice always.  He said, “may your spirit and soul and body, be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let’s consider what Paul advises us to do to keep sound.  Rejoice, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances.  Why?  Because it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  It’s for you because God knows what is best for you and what brings joy to your heart.

Staying sound is being accountable to the joy given to us by God.  It’s when we are able to identify something as pure and holy, and be self-disciplined enough to discern what is good for our souls.  And when we identify it, we do not quench the Spirit, rather we embrace it.  We hear it and we feel it with our hearts.

So staying sound and having joy is an attitude of the heart that becomes a strong and intimate relationship with Christ.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  It’s comforting and full of peace and brings contentment, so much so that as the joy of our Spirit grows, it becomes our strength.

As the fruit of the Spirit, baby Jesus brought to earth love, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion – all the things that enhance our relationship and understanding of God.

The joy of the Lord is when we have gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is a natural part of our Christian faith, an enduring attitude of the heart and Spirit.

In the book, “Fruit, Flourishing with the Fruit of the Spirit” (Alabaster), the writer points out the following:

‘Luke’s gospel records a song sung by Mary after she learns that she is chosen by God to carry and deliver Jesus, God’s son (Luke 1:46-55).  In this song, often called The Magnificat, Mary expresses that her soul has been filled with joy.  Pointing to the goodness and faithfulness God has displayed in the past and anticipating hope and glory that is to come, Mary rejoices at the opportunity to be a part of God’s plan for creation.  We too are a part of this plan; each day offers us the opportunity to delight in God’s joyful work in all things.’

Additionally, the Gospel of Luke tells us an angel appeared to shepherds bringing good news of great joy to ALL people.

Jesus’ birth marks the beginning of redemption for humanity, and the promise of eternal life.  It is the good news.  It is the joy of advent!

Our story, “Sounding Joy,” reminds us “Glad tidings!  Great joy!  We are never alone!”

Great joy indeed!  We all have hope in the promise sent to us in a birth so long ago.  The hope of love and peace and joy with our Lord in his eternal home!

Let us lift our voices in joy, rejoicing always with Sounding Joy!

*Cover Art by Unsplash, used with subscription