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  • Writer's pictureJulie Gross

I love Jesus and the Joy of Christmas!

I don’t really remember much about the Advent wreath or the Advent candles from when I was growing up, but as I grow older, the meaning of them draws me in. The colors and themes of the candles really speak to me as I love the symbolism behind them.

So this past Sunday, December 17, 2023, was the third Sunday in Advent, and the Advent candle is the candle of joy. It is the pink candle, and it’s also known as the Shepherd’s candle. I love this! I love reading the story of the birth of Christ in the Bible, and the part of the story that focuses on the shepherds is maybe my favorite part! The joy candle is also called the Shepherd’s candle because of the joy the shepherds felt and shared when they heard about the birth of Jesus!

This part of the story of the birth of Jesus is described in Luke 2:8-20, which is a large part of the story. It starts with just a mention about the shepherds being in the fields watching their sheep at night, and then ALL OF A SUDDEN. . . it doesn’t actually say that, but that’s how I imagine it. The shepherds were just hanging out on a hillside, in the dark, making sure their sheep were safe, when ALL OF A SUDDEN, there’s an angel! This must have been something quite remarkable to see, as the Bible says the shepherds were “terrified.” They weren’t surprised or scared or shocked--they were “terrified.” The angel then tries to calm them by saying, “Do not be afraid.” It doesn’t really say if the shepherds calmed down or not, but it does say that the angel goes on and explains about the birth of the Messiah and what they are to look for as a sign.

Then it gets even better–a whole group of angels appears with the first angel, “a great company of the heavenly host,” and they praise God and say, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14). Can you imagine that? I have seen pictures and depictions in movies, but I really don’t know what that would look like or sound like. I would have to think the shepherds would be amazed, in awe, surprised, excited, and a bit scared. What a wonderful experience that would be! In my mind, I see the heavenly host glowing and bright, and I hear their voices as loud and melodious with beautiful harmonies, singing the words in verse 14. 

After the angels left, the Bible says the shepherds decided to go and find the Messiah, and they did. They saw baby Jesus, they shared with others what the angel had told them about the baby, and then when they got back to their fields, the Bible says this in Luke 2:20: “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” What joy they must have been feeling! 

This is a beautiful story filled with JOY! It really does exemplify that pink candle of joy in the Advent wreath. The birth of Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, our Lord, is nothing but pure JOY–Jesus is a gift to the world, and it’s a free gift given to us by our amazing God! Thank you, Lord, for reminders of your love and the joy you bring to us by giving us your son, Jesus, as our Savior and Messiah! 

Next Sunday will be the fourth Sunday of Advent where we focus on love. I look forward to it!

Here are a couple of pictures of my nativity set, and the shepherds and angels have their own little table:

Thank you for reading, friends!



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