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Advent Week 3: Embracing Joy Amidst Life’s Turmoil

Week 3. Things are changing. The candle turns from purple to pink.

As we traverse the third week of Advent, the subtle shift from deep purples to the soft, tender pink glow of a candle goes beyond colors. It speaks volumes about embracing joy—a profound emotion that transcends hues and melodies, echoing through the complexities of our lives.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on Joni Mitchell's song "Both Sides Now". 

This song is featured in my book Twelve Days: A Christmas Exploration. It echoes life's profound intricacies: 

Rows and flows of angel hair. Ice cream castles in the air. Feather canyons everywhere. I’ve looked at clouds that way, but now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone. So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way… I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, I t’s cloud illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.

These poetic verses evoke reflection, much like the serene nativity scenes we often see at Christmas. 

Now let’s imagine Mary and Joseph's journey—Joseph had to walk 90 miles in 4 days. I used to work for the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day. It was a 60 mile distance and we had podiatrists, chiropractors, orthopedic shoes, rest stops, plenty of water and people cheering for one another. He had only a donkey carrying a pregnant 14 year old. Mary's discomfort? No mom. No midwife or nurses. We don’t know if she loved Joseph or if it was an arranged marriage.

Yes - the angels told both of them to not be afraid, but wouldn’t you be?

Here they were about to deliver a baby in a dimly lit cave amidst animal sounds and smells. They weren’t in the comfort of their own homes because they were part of a census and shortly after Jesus was born they would continue their journey as refugees. Their struggle mirrors the unrest still prevalent in parts of the world today. This tells us that the world is still wrestling with turmoil and yearning for peace, echoing the unsettled times of that ancient night.

Rest. They didn’t have any. The traditional carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" dates back centuries, also with a profound plea for comfort and peace to those not at rest: 

“Let nothing you dismay. Remember Christ the Savior was born in Christmas Day…Oh tidings of comfort and joy, Comfort and joy,"

This ancient melody sought to bring solace to troubled hearts, reminding them of Christ's birth and the peace it promises.


Mary and Joseph weren’t alone for long. While Mary labored, something else was happening not too far away. Something routine was about to be disrupted. 

Imagine if suddenly this happened to you at work:

Luke 2:8-14 New Living Translation (NLT)That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don't be afraid!” he said.

This was unexpected and yet they had been longing and waiting for a savior to come. They just didn’t know he would arrive as a baby in a stable. 

Like the shepherds in their routine, my everyday life often unfolds amid the mundane. Yet, that extraordinary night, they were startled by a chorus of angels proclaiming, 

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

This celestial proclamation shattered the silence, ushering hope into a longing world.


Understanding joy goes beyond fleeting happiness—it's an enduring gift, a comforting embrace amid life's adversities, offering solace even in the darkest moments. Joy isn't a fleeting emotion; it's an enduring sense of contentment and peace. Compassion International says:

“True joy is a limitless, life-defining, transformative reservoir waiting to be tapped into. It requires the utmost surrender and, like love, is a choice to be made.”


As we conclude this week of Advent, let's grasp onto the revealed joy, recognizing it transcends beyond colors or melodies. Let's hold onto hope, peace, and joy amidst life's adversities, cherishing Christ, the true reason for the season.


Bible Verses on Joy and Rejoicing:

  1. Psalm 16:11 - "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

  2. Psalm 126:5 - “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy”

  3. John 16:24 - "Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

  4. Romans 15:13 - "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

  5. Philippians 4:4 - "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"


Dear Lord, thank You for Your word and for joy that was brought into the world for all. In this season of Advent, as we reflect on the journey towards the birth of Jesus Christ, grant us the strength to embrace the enduring joy that transcends circumstances. Help us find comfort and peace amidst life's adversities. Let the true essence of joy permeate our hearts, filling us with hope and contentment. Thank you for the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

My Song Suggestions:

1. "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell - This reflective song explores the complexities of life and perception. Take the time to truly listen to this.

2. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (traditional carol) - Reflects on the comfort and joy brought by the birth of Christ. This is my favorite version of it from Mercy Me:

3. "Joy" by For King & Country - A contemporary song that focuses on the theme of joy and its significance. I was at the show where they recorded this one

4. “Do Not Be Afraid” by JJ Weeks - a song that describes what happened when the Angels appeared to the shepherds and the comfort and joy that was felt.

5. "Here With Us" by Joy Williams - A heartfelt song encapsulating the hope and joy found in the birth of Christ.


Link to my book: Twelve Days: A Christmas Exploration

Link to my podcast where we feature special episodes of Twelve Days:

How could I end the post without the famed clip of Linus sharing the true story of Christmas - maybe it will even soften your heart for Charlie Brown.

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