top of page
  • Amber

The Season of Joy

The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for right before their eyes they see the Lord God bring his people home again.
-Isaiah 52.8 (TLB)

In my previous blog post, I mentioned the themes of the four Sundays of Advent and that two are more consistent throughout the Church than others – these two are the Sundays of Hope and Joy. From nearly the beginning of the Christian tradition, the focus of Advent was a more penitential nature. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise if you’ve been following along with the Isaiah readings for the season. There is a lot of doom and gloom in the readings for Advent.

 

As such, churches wanted to create a time to celebrate the joy of the season. As there is plenty of joy to be had in Jesus’ coming. So, the third Sunday of Advent became the Joy Sunday – or in the original Latin the Gaudete (gau – DAY – tay) Sunday. This day celebrated the nearing end of the fasting and penitence the churches of old practiced through the season, and the tradition of a Joy Sunday carried through to today.

 

Culturally, this whole season has really been tied to the idea of joy. It’s the season of cheer and good tidings, a time where everyone is supposed to be happy. This idea can permeate our actions and thoughts, sometimes to the point where we feel guilty if we don’t feel as happy as we’re supposed to. These feelings have become so prevalent in our society that they have been given a name: Toxic Positivity.


verywell/Jiaqi Zhou

 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says: “Toxic Positivity occurs when encouraging statements are expected to minimize or eliminate painful emotions, creating pressure to be unrealistically optimistic without considering the circumstances of the situation.” Positive thinking is a good thing, and good for one’s mental health. The problem occurs when there is denial or guilt over negative emotions. Humans are emotional beings, and we should let ourselves feel the scope of them.

 

Some people even use Jesus to enable Toxic Positivity. People that claim everything has been just wonderful since they met Jesus. That if you just let Jesus into your life then everything will be just fine. That in Christ all things are good and never should you question the bad stuff, just keep praying until it goes away.

 

Relationships where you feel that you can only bring joy and positivity are unhealthy, so we certainly should not approach God and prayer that way. Like I touched on in my blog post about grief, you don’t have to only praise him and ask for help and just keep your chin up that God’s answer will come and everything will be just fine.

 

Hard and difficult things will happen, and you can talk to God about it. Hopefully there are people in your life you can talk to about it as well. Only showing the joyful side to everyone because it’s not proper to show anything else is denying your very human and real emotions. We’re all human and all have the capacity for many emotions at once, so don’t deny any of them.



In the Western tradition of the church, some churches have what is called a ‘Blue Christmas’ service (sometimes called ‘The Longest Night’). This is a service specifically for those who have a hard time feeling the joy that so many insist they should be feeling due to the season. In our church, Advent is spent setting up a world that needs Jesus, and a world that needs Jesus is not a joyful one. Recognizing that everyone may not be feeling the ‘joy’ of the season is important and it shouldn’t be forced on people simply because that’s what it ‘should’ be.

 

What if this Advent season, when sharing the joy of the season, offer grace to those that may not be as ‘joyful’. Try not to linger on how you or anyone else should feel this season and allow space for all emotions. You can even rejoice and be glad in the Lord while also feeling sad or angry, they aren’t mutually exclusive. There will be times joy, yes, but it will come and go, and that’s okay.



23 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page