4th Sunday of Advent – Joy
Reading: Isaiah 62
Navigating our emotions can be a tricky thing, especially when we find ourselves falling in love with another person. Within a couple months of when we started dating, on a romantic stroll down Homestead Drive in Mount Hope – complete with a light Christmas snow falling – I told Hennie that I loved her and wanted us to get married someday. We had hinted at the possibility before then, but that was the first awkward moment of me laying all my cards on the table. My gushing emotions that night started a conversation that led to our formal engagement the following September and to our wedding the year after that.
In this passage, God lays all his cards on the table. God will take delight in his people. God desires such an intimate relationship with us that the only relationship that comes close to describing the intimacy is a marriage: “As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” God doesn’t fumble over his words or hold back. God has set his affection upon his people and he is pledging himself to “Daughter Zion” forever.
Isaiah says that God has even set up watchmen to tell about God’s love until he brings his promised delight to fruition for Jerusalem – his beloved people. John embraces this marriage metaphor when describing the Advent of the new heavens and new earth: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
As we move through the evening tonight and into Christmas morning tomorrow, we will recall the story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. (We get to have birthday parties for Jesus!) We will be reminded of the angels bursting with joy and the shepherds running in amazement at the news of God’s love. We might even pause with Mary to ponder all these things in our hearts. How could we do anything else? For God has rejoiced over us with singing. He has lavished his affection upon us in Jesus Christ in ways that we still cannot fully comprehend 2000 years later.
As we remember and celebrate the wonder of God’s affection in the coming day, we are also beckoned to anticipate the fullness of God’s love that we will experience in Jesus’ return. “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” Jesus is coming. He’s almost here.