Welcoming Joy (Advent Week 3)

Throughout the season of Advent, you may want to create a small sacred space for prayer and quiet. Each week I’ll suggest a small “everyday” item you can add to your space (or carry with you!) to help you reflect on the week’s theme. Find the St. Benedict quotation printable here.

LINK TO THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE TEXTS.

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Psalm 126
Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter;
our tongues were filled with joyful shouts.

Luke 1:46b-55
In the depths of who I am
I rejoice in God my savior.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Add a recipe card to your sacred space. Use a blank one, a family keepsake, or a print-out from online. Find a new recipe to try, or whip up an old standby. If you use a blank card, fill it out if you like: What are the ingredients of joy for you in these days? A literal family recipe? Or a nourishing mixture of special memories and shared moments?

When I was a kid, my parents hosted an open house every Christmas Eve, and some of the recipes I associate with the holidays are the ones they served on those frosty nights after a candlelight church service. Whether simple and nourishing or special-occasion, food is how we take care of those who share our lives. We welcome new neighbors with cookies, deliver gifts of bread at the holiday season. Even Jesus shared himself with his friends around the table.

The joy we welcome at Advent isn’t the momentary joy of a warm cinnamon roll or the warm feelings of a nostalgic passed-down favorite. Advent joy is the joy of God’s coming Reign, unending nourishment, when the table will stretch beyond our view and the hungry will be filled with good things. When we share food together, we can catch glimpses of that day. May it come soon.


Welcome, child of jubilation,
you for whom the way is made ready,
of whom the messenger brings good news,
for whom the angels are already rehearsing their Glorias.

In this season, when joy
(to the world) means no more than
the fulfillment of wish lists,
the mountains of wrapped parcels under the tree,
remind us that the joy you give
is not in attaining but in releasing
not in storing up but in letting go
not in getting everything we want but
in giving all that we have
so that everyone
may be filled with good things.

In this season, when joy
(to the world) may be a dream,
disturbed by real life with its howling grief,
anger, fear, isolation,
let us know the joy you give
with its quiet comfort,
calm, assurance, community.

Where joy is silenced by hunger,
teach us to nourish in your name.

Where joy is crushed by heartbreak,
give us gentle hands to offer your healing.

Where joy seems to belong only to the powerful,
give us courage to break down thrones.

Keep us focused on what you intend for us:
joy always, prayer unending, and thanks
no matter what.

Welcome, child of jubilee, joy-bringer.
We open the door to you!

Ethiopian Orthodox diptych, ca. 1630-1700, in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

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