“I will purify the lips of the peoples. That they all may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one accord.”Zephaniah 3:9
Ten days until the day of great rejoicing and celebration. Ten days to continue to fill our hearts with hope, faith, joy and peace.
In today’s reading from Zephaniah 3 and in the gospel of Matthew 21, we read about change, change within. When I first glanced through the readings this morning, I wondered what did these readings have to do with joy. Then I realized that joy is a result of internal transformation from darkness to light and it reminded me of a Christmas years ago when I was transformed.
Seven years ago, to this day, I had to make a very big decision that changed my life completely. It definitely was not the most joyful decision but the end result filled me with hope, increasing my faith, joy and peace. That year was a year of change for me within, from darkness to light. It was a year that drew me closer to God in so many ways, preparing me for things to come.
Isn’t that what Advent is. It’s opening our heart in hope to transform us in faith, filling us with joy and peace as we prepare and celebrate the coming of Christ.
There are so many things about the Christmas season that can bring joy to our hearts if we are open to receiving it.
A few days ago, my youngest daughter discovered that Snowflake, our Elf on the Shelf, did not really have magic and did not really make all the messes and do silly stuff. When I mentioned it wouldn’t be fun anymore not being able to assist our elf, she looked at me and told me to keep doing it because it brought her joy. When I reflected this morning on that Christmas seven years ago, I remembered my girls being introduced to the Elf on the Shelf that Christmas. My niece brought joy to their hearts through these silly little things this elf did for them to find when they woke up. Since that Christmas, we adopted an Elf on the Shelf that loves to make messes, filling their hearts with a piece of joy.
This morning, God revealed that even though joy seemed to be lacking in my life seven years ago, it was present. It was deeper within, through the changes in my heart that He began to awaken earlier that year as I embraced a deeper longing for His presence. It is through this silly little elf that He showed me this morning the joy His relationship brought me that year and every year after. Joy sometimes seems to be lacking on the outside but when our hearts are open to transformation, sprouts of joy burst from within filling us with all that God has intended.
The invitation for us today is to look within and ask how God has changed your heart this year? Are you simply checking the boxes in your faith, numbing some of that joy or are you truly embracing the relationship He offers to you, rejoicing in joy?
Hope is opening our hearts to our faith in God to produce abundant joy and peace. May this week continue to pour out joy from within your heart.