This coming Sunday, December 12, begins the third week of Advent. The focus for this week is on Joy. This echoes and celebrates the proclamation of the angels who announced Jesus’s birth to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
There are times I find myself challenged or convicted to assess my heart and my attitude concerning the spaces, people, or circumstances in my life. I recently read in Acts 4 of Peter and John boldly preaching the message of Jesus in the Temple courts (multiple times… and that’s after being beaten and imprisoned)! I asked myself: Am I that bold? Do I take Jesus’s command to make disciples that seriously? Do I go after accomplishing that assignment with joy?
At every turn it seems that we are part of a culture that is quick to criticize, find fault, complain, become angry, and even hurt others with our words or actions. We see this in the media, on social media, and in our own attitudes and actions as what is resonating in our hearts overflows outwardly. You see this in the Church, too. We criticize what we don’t like, we complain when we’re asked to serve, we get angry at another person’s carelessness, and we go as far as to hurt one another --- and along with it, the message of the joy of the Gospel.
These are easy snares to get caught up in. While Jesus was doing his ministry, we see plenty of examples of the religious leaders complaining when Jesus didn’t conform. We see Jesus’s own disciples criticizing his approach to ministry and to people.
I want to challenge our White Oak family to respond differently! The greatest joy the world has ever or will ever know has been revealed to us! Think about that. You have every reason in the world to be joy-filled. Though every circumstance or person in your life may not bring you joy, Jesus does. And it’s Jesus’s joy which you and I can insert into any relationship and any space. We must be a people who allow Jesus’s joy to transform our hearts and attitude toward difference, serving, giving, change, and others around us. The joy of Jesus changes everything. The question I have to ask myself (and which I will ask you) is this: Am I being changed by joy? Do I exude joy? If not, what am I currently allowing to shape my heart, attitude, and actions?
My prayer for you and for White Oak this season and the year to come is that our collective hearts, attitudes, and actions are formed by the joy we get from our salvation! With that joy, we can tackle whatever 2022 has in store. What’s more, we can take our joy to our neighbors and, by all possible means, share it with them!
Let’s start with this: Be sure you are inviting your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to attend White Oak with you this Christmas season. Trust me, they need joy, and you know the pathway to receive it. Use one of our invite tools (shareables) on our website at thewocc.com/Christmas.
Also, be sure you are registering for our Christmas Eve services and inviting others to do the same!
I am excited to celebrate joy with you this Christmas!
Lead Pastor, White Oak Christian Church