There Is Joy in the Presence of Jesus

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     At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 

where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:39-41 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, it’s easy to race past this part of your nativity story. John the Baptist leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, just because he was in close proximity to you, while you were in Mary’s womb. This event is both intriguing and encouraging.

It reminds us of another part of your story, thirty-three years later. On the night you were arrested, just before your death on the cross, you asked the Father to grant us the fullness of your joy (John 17:13). How profound, how kind, how generous that is of you. May your prayer be answered to overflowing.

Help us realize that nothing has to change in our world, and nobody has to be different, for this prayer to be answered. We don’t need a different story, less suffering, or more money.

We don’t have to have different temperaments, easier jobs, or hipper friends. Indeed, living in a different era, different neighborhood, or a different body isn’t a prerequisite for experiencing your delight and felicity. Your joy transcends (and transforms) tears, circumstances, and heartaches.

Throughout Advent, free us from hitching our joy-wagon to anything or anyone but you, Jesus. Just knowing you, or rather, being known and loved by you, makes us incalculably rich.

By the work of your Holy Spirit, may Asaph’s song be one of our favorite Christmas Carols this year, “I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Who do I have in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:23-26) So very Amen we pray, Jesus, in your near and joy-full name.

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