Advent Reflections 2020

Saturday 19th December 2020


Chamber’s dictionary defines ‘joy’ as – ‘intense gladness’: ‘rapture’ and Isaac Watts (1674-1748)‘ composed his hymn ‘Joy to the world! The Lord is come’, a paraphrase of the second part of Psalm 98, to express his joy at the birth of Christ – the Messiah. The first verse continues ‘Let every heart prepare Him room’ and surely this is the purpose of the period we know as Advent. 

But wait a moment – this is 2020 and this year Advent will be very different from any experienced in most people’s living memory. ‘Joy’ may be in short supply, even among Christians.
Many years ago, I remember a Sunday School chorus – sung to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’ (very topical), which ran – 
J.O.Y. – J.O.Y. surely that must mean  -  Jesus first, yourself last and others in between.

My thought, therefore, is that it is the second part of verse 1 of Watts’ hymn which this year is important –‘Let every heart prepare Him room’. In past months we have seen acts of genuine kindness, love even, shown to friends, neighbours and complete strangers by people of faith, not necessarily Christian, and people of no professed faith.  

These acts have given support, hope and even joy to those who received them.  Perhaps the givers are not aware of ‘putting Jesus first’, but by putting others before themselves, they have created space for Him to fill the void. ‘Joy’ this year can therefore bring intense gladness to both giver and recipient.




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