Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.
In the first week of Advent, we focused on hope; our very own kingdom task of offering hope to those we encounter. In the second week of Advent we focused on peace, both personal peace and being peace to those we encounter.
In this third week of Advent we focus on joy and rejoicing. Rejoice, the Lord is near! In reflecting on joy and rejoicing we recognize that we are asked to be bringers of joy and rejoicing. St. Paul also instructs us – Do not quench the Spirit.
Something that rang true for most of us last week was recalling the difference between someone who walks into a room and, well, removes all peace and the person who walks in and we say, ahhhh, I feel at ease now.
Now imagine another person walks in, on fire with the Spirit. They open our eyes to possibilities and fill us with a share of that same Spirit. We feel uplifted, energized, filled with joy, and are ready to go forward with rejoicing. On the other hand, imagine that other person walking in – the quencher, the negative person who sees no joy, who refuses to allow the inspiration of the Sprit in, and wants to ensure no one else does either.
As the faithful we must be careful to be promoters and bringers of joy, to recognize where the Spirit in moving amongst us, where God is among us. Where – Emmanuel – is acting to move us forward.
Indeed, we are bearers of a joyous message – Jesus has saved us and is available to each and every person. The Holy Spirit has infused us with life and His great gifts of praise, song, wisdom, and voices that along with John can proclaim, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”
What a wonderful message of joyous anticipation – the very heart of Advent, Jesus is near, He is ready to meet you as He has met me. Proclaim that the Spirit is in us and work to bear God’s joy by making the Lord’s way straight, by filling in where people are low and easing the jagged edges in the lives of those we know.
John was confronted by the joy removers, the naysayers, the quenchers. John bore a message of joy, the forgiveness of sin and the opportunity, soon upon the people around him, to meet the Savior, the Messiah Who now lives among us. John’s joy filled message in response to the Pharisees and Levites still rings true – in our age perhaps even more than in the Israel of John’s time – “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” Wake up and recognize Him. Meet Him and be filled with joy.
To have the fulness of joy, to look forward, no matter what is going on about us, with joy, is to have Jesus alive in us, the Holy Spirit moving within us, and to share the message – Rejoice!