by Lilly Lewin
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By Lilly Lewin

These Advent days are moving quickly towards Christmas. A little too quickly for me! I’m trying to take time to stop and take a deep breath and enjoy the simple things of the holiday season. Last night we had a family dinner to welcome my niece and her new husband to the Nashville side of the family. They live out west and we sadly didn’t make it to their wedding earlier this year. We had a wonderful time telling old stories and laughing at new ones we hadn’t heard before over delicious BBQ and side dishes from a great local restaurant. And then for dessert, the joy of a childhood memory food! pink peppermint ice cream and my late grandmother’s fudge pie! On the way home, my husband and I took the long way and looked at the Christmas lights along the way. It was a fun way to pause and receive the Joy of the season.

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This week is the week of Joy in traditional Advent. It’s the pink candle week if you have a traditional wreath with three purple and one pink candle. It’s known as Gaudete Sunday. which is Latin for rejoice.

What is your definition of JOY?

This Advent, I am finding Joy in new Christmas music, and in decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments from all our travels and from my childhood and those created by our kids. I’m finding Joy in beautiful sunsets and the crisp blue skies of late and finding joy in our doodle Jake.

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What is bringing you Joy in this season? What symbolizes JOY to you?


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

jesus mafa nativity

jesus mafa nativity

What do you notice from this passage that you might not have noticed before?

The angels announce GOOD NEWS that will cause GREAT JOY for all the people! Not just for some of us! Not for those who have the right clothes or the right job or the right political affiliations. Not just those who have loads in their bank accounts or those who’ve invested well for their retirement years. But this GOOD NEWS, this JOY is for EVERYONE! Even lowly shepherds who haven’t taken a bath in a month much less thought about a retirement plan!

“Shepherds were a despised occupational group. Shepherds could be romanticized, largely due to the status of King David, the once and future shepherd king…However, in social fact shepherds were generally ranked with ass drivers, tanners, sailors, butchers, camel drivers, and other despised occupations. Being away from home at night, they were unable to protect the honor of their women; hence they were presumed to be dishonorable. Often they were considered thieves because they grazed their flocks on other people’s property.” (Malina/Rohrbaugh, 93)

It is interesting who gets the news of the Birth of the Messiah. It’s not the religious leaders or the wealthy, but rather a bunch of shepherds.

If Jesus was born today, who would get to hear about it first? Who in our world would be the first to hear of the GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY?

the annunciation to the shepherds henry ossawa tanner 8504a4b1

the annunciation to the shepherds henry ossawa tanner

Like the Shepherds of old, You are invited to OPEN YOUR INVITATION to JOY!

How can you experience more Joy in the days ahead? Talk to Jesus about this. What is blocking you from experiencing JOY right now? Give these things to Jesus to hold for you.

In honor of the shepherds, find a wool scarf or sweater and use it, wear it as a reminder that God is still announcing GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY to ALL PEOPLE! Allow the itch of the blanket, the itch of the sweater or scarf remind you to pray for people who aren’t considered the “in crowd,”and those who don’t know they are loved today. Those who feel outcast and alone this Advent/ Christmas.

PICK an Object or a Photograph that brings you JOY or reminds you to be joyful and keep it out on your desk or use it as your screen saver this week to help you receive the GIFT OF JOY from JESUS!

WATCH and LISTEN to one of my favorite spoken word artists: HARRY BAKER : JOY 2022 . Harry made a list of things that bring him joy as apart of his Advent practice last year and he is doing that again for 2023. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook. @harrybakerpoet



“Take Joy in this! God is with us! That is what his name means…Emmanuel” Scott Erickson


©lillylewin and

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