Joy: Week Three – Day Five

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 12:5-6 (NRSV)

Let’s think for a minute: how many Christmas songs talk about joy or being joyful? Well, there’s “Joy to the World,” that one is pretty obvious. There’s also “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Holy Night,” “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Angels We Have Heard on High” just to name a few.

Joy is pretty a churchy word, but we use it because we are talking about something more than happiness or pleasure. We are talking about a heavenly feeling which has somehow made its way deep into our souls. Often, in Scripture and in worship, we are so overwhelmed by its presence we cannot help but sing. That’s why we have so many Christmas songs about joy.

This verse from Isaiah encourages the people of God to let loose with shouting and praise. There are hundreds of other passages in the Bible which encourage the same thing, yet we often find ourselves quiet and self-conscious when it comes to worship. When was the last time you found yourself singing? Maybe it was in the shower or in the car. Maybe at a friend’s birthday or in the school choir. There is so much emotion bound up with the act of singing. When we sing we are forced to really feel the words deep within us.

Theologian St. Augustine used to say, “To sing is to pray twice.” In a sense, anything we sing to God reflects the depths of our soul. Isaiah encourages the people of God to sing in celebration and joy at what the Lord has done for them. But he also told them to sing for another reason. He said that they should sing because “…in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” They should sing, not just because of what God has done, but also because God is present with them.

During the season of Advent, we are called to celebrate because the God of all creation has decided to make His home among us. God is not far off in heaven. The Holy One is found here in our midst in the person of Jesus Christ. This season, do not be afraid to celebrate boldly and with singing the arrival of our Lord.

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