Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Yes, there is joy, even in the waiting, even in the absence of a promise fulfilled. It comes as a pink candle, the one the children have been asking about since the beginning of Advent. We light it now, this third Sunday, because joy cannot help sneak into the patient sequence, right here.
It’s here in little bursts as anticipation bubbles up.
It’s here, a song in the air, even as our hearts yet grieve the darkness.
It’s here, a merry flame of rose and gold, the steady blaze of the far country.
It’s here, lighting the feast of God’s provision and defying winter’s icy grip.
It’s here, because He is here, and in His presence is fullness of joy.
When we abide in His love, which casts out fear and overcomes death, His joy fills us.
He is here, in the secret place, where the seed of hope awakens. He is here, in the hiding place, where peace is spoken to still the angry waves.
He is here, with us in sorrow and sighing, with us in uncertainty and shadow, with us in the watching and waiting.
Sometimes a pink candle is all it takes to make the children laugh, to remind us of the colours of dawn, to assure us that joy comes to us from another kingdom, and nothing on this groaning earth can take it away.
Joy is the laughter of God resounding from heaven to nature. It is the music of eternity reaching the ears of creation. It is His delight in us embracing our flesh and bone. It is the welcome of His presence right where we are, and the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Joy is Emmanuel, God with us.
O come, o come Emmanuel…
Even now the lament begins to turn and spin toward joy. One more candle, one step closer. We can make out His face in the glow.