[Advent Week 4] The Shepherd’s Candle

Each of my sons traveled to China with my mom over their 16th birthdays. It was an amazing experience and I was so grateful for them to have it with their grandma, serving God and his people. But I missed them terribly when they were away. And counted the days until I could see them again with growing anticipation. We had a joyful reunion at the airport when each one returned. 

I’m not good at waiting. The month-long wait for my sons to return felt like an eternity. I can’t begin to imagine what the waiting must have felt like for God’s people in anticipation of the Messiah. 

This Advent season, I’m reflecting on centuries of waiting about to be fulfilled as Mary and Joseph prepare to give birth to the Messiah – in a barn. Far from the peaceful picture of the nativity scenes all around my home this time of year, Mary and Joseph are encompassed in political turmoil, the oppression of God’s people, and the pain of labor – with no bed and no anesthesia! 

But then, Joy came. I need joy. People need to experience joy. I want to practice experiencing and sharing joy.


A Traditional Activity: Sharing Joy

The third Advent candle is sometimes called the “Shepherd’s Candle” or the “Candle of Joy.” Today, revisit the account of the shepherds’ visit to the stable in Luke 2, focusing as a family on the profound joy the shepherds must have felt when they heard the Good News. This was the first time in the history of the world that good news was actually “good news for ALL people.” That should color how we talk about Christmas! 

Share with family and friends about times when you’ve felt the joy Jesus brings in your own life.


A Modern Twist: The Joyful Service Project

Incorporate a modern tradition of giving back during the Advent season. As a family, choose a service project that brings joy to others in your community. Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, making care packages for those in need, or singing Christmas carols at a nursing home, experiencing the joy of giving will remind your family of the true meaning of Christmas.


A Traditional Song: “Joy to the World”

Joy to the World” is a jubilant hymn that celebrates the joy of Christ’s birth. Its exuberant lyrics and joyful melody make it a perfect choice to sing as you focus on the theme of joy in Advent. Gather together and sing this hymn to rejoice in the birth of our Savior and the joy he brings to our lives.


A Modern Song: “Born Is the King (It’s Christmas)” by Hillsong Worship

Born Is the King (It’s Christmas)” by Hillsong Worship is a modern Christmas song that radiates joy and celebration. Its lyrics express impulsive worshipfulness Christ’s birth brings and the impact it has on our lives. Gather your family and sing this song to rejoice in the birth of our Savior and the joy he brings during Advent.


This Advent season I hope these symbols, stories, and songs – traditional and modern – might fill your family with hope, peace, and joy. I also pray, as you anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, that you sense you are even more ready to speak about the hope, peace and joy of Christmas. Stay tuned for the final part of this Advent blog series, where we’ll explore the theme of love and the significance of the Christ candle.


What are some Christmas songs that inspire joy in your heart? Share your favorites with me in the comments.

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