Joy to the World 2023

“Let us with a joyful mind; praise our God forever kind, rich with mercies that endure, ever faithful, ever sure.” – Refrain from Let Us With a Joyful Mind

Advent Greetings,

We are days into this Season of Advent, as we wait with anticipation and expectation the birth of Hope into the world. I am sensing there is a need for hope, as there are many evidences in our world and society which create this longing for Hope and Peace. I am also identifying there is an infusing excitement, as many congregations have completed the Hanging of the Greens, and are planning for many celebrations, Cantatas, and commemorations over the next several weeks; even with a shortened Advent as Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday.

Also, in thinking about this Advent Season, I believe there is a greater need for joy. Recently, I had a meeting with two congregations in Dana, IN. Before the meeting began, an adorable almost three-year old named Oliver came up to me and offered an unsolicited hug. It does not require much to change the entire atmosphere of a room when a child just wants to show love. Oliver did not know me, but he filled the room with such joy with his unashamed gift of offering me a hug.

Or I am reminded of a worship experience a few years ago; the entire theme of the service was around lighting the candle of JOY. It was during the service the pastor shared a video about a baby laughing, simply because the parent was tearing paper. The laughter from the video became contagious in the congregation, were we too found ourselves laughing at a baby, laughing at their parent tearing paper. I do not know about you, but there is something about seeing a baby that makes us change our countenance. It is something about a baby or a small child, whether in person or via video, that just fills us with joy.

I would wonder, throughout our lives, how can we begin to find “joy in the simplest forms.” I believe as we, again, await the birth of the Christ child; we wait with an eagerness in the hopes that something is going to change. We hang on to the new life, as a wonder for something better than right now. We beam with excitement in the JOY that HOPE, PEACE, and LOVE is being birthed into the world for all to enjoy!

There are many situations and circumstances in our lives that are hope-stealers and joy-killers. Not to negate the current realities, but I just wonder what would happen if we were to re-shift our focus, to find a sliver of joy in the most simple.

Friends, we as Christ-followers are called to bear the LIGHT and spread JOY in the darkness, but so often we fail to remember our calling and our commitment. My prayer of us is that during this Season of Advent, it indeed prepares us for the days to come. My prayer is that we do not box up JOY at the conclusion of the season, but we will carry it as a part of our everyday living and being. Yes, there will be some hard times, we will need to make some difficult decisions, and yet, my hope is we will continue to radiate JOY to the world. Or as Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Showing, Sharing, and Spreading JOY with you!

Conference Superintendent

Here is a link to the video if you just need to smile.