“Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations” Isaiah 61:7-11

As I journey to wrap my mind and heart around this Advent season, I’ve been struck by the complexity in expectation of a King who is at this moment living in me as Lord, even while I long in expectation of His Return. The Season of Advent reminds us to focus on the Hope of Eternal Life. We have a peace that can only come from taking our eyes off of what is seen and focusing on the beautiful paradox of expectation and promise.

The power and anointing of the Holy Spirit inside of us prophesied by Isaiah, “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives” also gives us the joyful promise to be able to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Our joy can’t come from current circumstances, how many gifts are crowding our tree or even solely in the promise of Heaven. Pure and deep abiding joy comes from the understanding that we are known in a greater way than we can ever know, and are loved in a greater way than we can ever love, the paradox of our relationship with one we still long to know.

Anticipation. Pouring over the idea of joy, the imagery that stuck with me, specifically in the scripture I led with is the excitement, preparation and joyful nature of an elaborate wedding. The idea of spending what seems like a lifetime preparing for the moment when your longing is fulfilled. You get to be in a relationship with someone you have already spent every day with; a celebration of coming to know them in a way you have never known, even though you’ve already felt their heartbeat and have walked with them.

This is Advent. This is joy. The word picture here of the groom adorning his head like a priest and the bride with her jewels speaks to me on so many levels. I feel the excitement and joy of picking out a wedding dress, the thoughtful consideration picking out the perfect ring, finding just the right flowers and the beauty of a decorated hall waiting for wedding guests to arrive. None of these things are a hassle, there is JOY in being a prepared bride, she knows her groom is coming and what is behind her pales in comparison to what lies ahead! I pray we keep the spirit of a bride in our hearts.

He knew us from the beginning, He is living inside us now with the power given to us from His resurrection as a hope we will one day fully know Him. This is our Hope… our Peace… and the source of our true Joy.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1:46-55

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