Joy to the World!

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A reflection from Rev. Ruth Marston-Bihl

As this season of Advent and anticipation comes to its end, one of the last events I look forward to is the close of our Christmas Eve service. As I watch the light from the Christ Light grow and expand into individual candles, I always feel a sense of peace and love. I look forward to the reflection of candlelight on each face.


We will sing Joy to the World by that candlelight. “Yes,” we sing, “Even to this world. Joy. Joy. Joy.” We don’t promise the world peace through powerful armies and we don’t promise the world truth through the highest production value movies and newscasts. We promise the world joy through the cradling of an infant close to our chest, trusting in the promise that comes with every sleeping child.

I know that we’re still living between the unfolding of that promise and its realization. The anticipation of Advent – for every valley has yet to be exalted, every hill has yet to be made low, the hungry are not yet filled (Isaiah 40:4, Luke 1:53) – is still an unrealized longing of the entire world. We know that on Dec. 24 stories of violence, war, poverty, and hatred will still be told. But those stories will not be able to drown out heaven and nature singing “Joy. Joy. Joy.”

Christmas isn’t about wish fulfillment, it’s about the embodied grace God sent to us and our commitments made it return.  Christmas is the promise found in the Christ Child, the promise that we make when we lift our candle’s high, and the ancient promise made new through our voices singing ancient hymns, of Joy, peace, and love.

Christmas Eve Services are at 3:00, 5:00, and 8:00