Ready or not, Christmas is coming…
This weekend will be the last in our advent series, this Friday and Saturday we have Christmas. Some will be taking this time to relax and enjoy the holiday season, while others will be franticly rushing around trying to get everything ready in time.

Christmas time seems to cause a certain amount of introspection. As we prepare to see family and friends, as the year comes close to an end we often think about the choices we have made and the circumstances we’re in. We start to evaluate our lives… usually with external metrics.

I mean, it’s hard not to. People will often ask you this time of year what your plans are for the holidays, or for next year. Or they’ll ask what you have been doing. These questions make us think about where we are in our lives and what we have been doing with our time.

These sorts of questions make us question if we’re happy where we are. Whether all of the choices and circumstances (both those in and out of our control) have left us where we wanted to be.

I know for me, some years this has been fine. Things had been going well and I was able to say easily that I was satisfied with my life. Other years have been more difficult, there have been times when I haven’t been happy with what my life looked like, or what I hadn’t yet managed to accomplish.

Happiness changes, and it doesn’t always line-up well with Christmas. Whether it’s a loved one that can’t be with you this year, grief over a loss, illness or the end of a year that just seemed to keep going wrong… for many, there will be something that keeps Christmas from being purely happy.

But that’s one of the wonderful things about each of the weeks throughout advent.

As we have prepared for Christmas to arrive, whether we are ready for it or not, advent has given us all a chance to reflect on hope, love, joy and peace.

Last weekend was joy. We often like to equate joy to happiness, but it’s so much more. Happiness is fickle, and can change on whim due to choice or circumstance. Joy is often used to express something much more deep and solid. When joy is based in faith in Jesus, it doesn’t change based on the current events of our lives. Having this type of joy as a foundation lets us find the good no matter the circumstance.

Joy is sometimes described as great happiness, but the definition of being the source or cause for great delight may be more accurate. Joy can cause happiness, but you can have joy in this season no matter what, even if not all is happy. Because our source of joy remains the same. 

This concept applies to each of the other themes that we have explored over advent. When hope, love, joy and peace are dependant only on God, than they are permanent. It doesn’t mean that you can’t feel hopeless or sad or any other emotion that is typically thought of as negative. It just means that you have these convictions to hold onto even when life doesn’t meet your expectations.

So, whatever the year has been, and whatever the coming week brings you, I pray that you will all experience and hold on to hope, love, joy and peace this coming week and into the new year.

Written by: Lauren Mead

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