Advent 3: Joy – Nostalgic Anticipation

Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Peace on Earth? Joy to the World?

It’s easy (and natural) to be overwhelmed by life and all the craziness that swamps our time, heart and relationships. It’s  easy for fear to sneak up on us and joy to elude us. To be honest, even knowing what Peace and Joy even are is the real issue. We typically (even inadvertently) allow our current circumstances to determine the quantity and quality of peace and joy we have. But the truth behind the facade is that peace and joy are not circumstantial but relational; not in flux but permanently acquired on our behalf; not an emotion but a faith-perspective. Peace at it’s root means being whole and complete, the way we’ve been Designed (in Eden) and the way we are Destined (in Heaven) to one day be again. Joy at it’s root is the perspective to see this peace that Jesus has purchased on our behalf on the cross as he fully paid for God’s righteous anger, and to live it out regardless of the ebb and flow of circumstantial emotions that often dictate our perspectives. But this is so far beyond our abilities. We cannot just tighten our faith-belt and believe better. We need, like the shepherds in this passage, need to have heavenly voices sing over us and remind us of the True Gospel; that God himself came to heal all that is broken; bring life into all that is dead; to draw near all those who are far off. Jesus is God himself as a baby, come to be our Ultimate King to lead us back (even through stormy seas) to our Home of Peace. Joy is NOSTALGIC ANTICIPATION: the ability to live in the present while looking backwards with nostalgia at who we were in Eden and simultaneously looking forward with anticipation our Life to come (which C.S. Lewis calls an “insatiable longing”)…like when you see Christmas presents under the tree and think about what that was like when you were a kid as well as what it might be like this upcoming Christmas morning when everybody is together enjoying the celebration.

This is actually more natural for us than we think. Do you remember a time you unexpectedly were overwhelmed by a specific nostalgic scent? Maybe a perfume or a food that instantly brought you back to a glorious time in life? I was sitting downstairs this past week when Amy (my wife) was surprising me by making some toffee. The scent wound it’s way down the stairs and into my heart. I was immediately transported to a time when I was a kid in the grandmother’s kitchen during Christmas. It also transported me to the time when I would feast on the toffee currently being made. That is Joy! It wasn’t the scent itself as much as it was the nostalgia of what it meant to me and the anticipation of what it would soon be. That is the life Jesus has for us that is based on how we were originally designed and destined to one day fully be.

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