As we get closer and closer to Christmas we can feel joy spreading like a wildfire from the candles of hope and peace. This joy is not the fleeting satisfaction we call happiness. Joy is not a pious catch phrase, but an eternal flame that cannot be snuffed out by the cares of a weary world.
These candles here will not burn forever, but true joy that lives in our souls endures eternally. It survives flood, famine, pandemic, and unbearable sorrow. When our bodies are too tired to carry on, the songs of joy still ring in our hearts.
Today we light this candle of joy because the Christmas story reminds us that Emmanuel means God is with us always and everywhere. [Light candle]
And so we pray: O come Emmanuel and ransom our weary world held captive by fear. When we are calm in the midst of chaos it is because your eternal joy is in us. We dare to be joyful because the tiny babe of Bethlehem has shown us victory over all the things that frighten us. No matter how many variants the forces of evil change themselves into; we know that you, almighty God, can transform our suffering into joyful praise. You have taught us that no matter how long our mourning in darkness may last, joy will come with the dawning of a fresh new day filled with hope, peace and love. And so today we offer you our songs of praise for the one who is Joy to the World. Amen