Advent is a time of transitions – we transition from work and school to the holiday break, from frenzy to calm, and from fear to comfort and joy. In Luke’s gospel, during their normal routine of watching the flock, the shepherds were suddenly in the direct presence of God and were rightfully terrified. I cannot imagine how I would have felt during such an overwhelming and shocking moment. However, the angel was able to turn the shepherds fear into comfort through the power of joy. The shepherd’s fear immediately dissipated, and they decided to leave their fields, drop their mundane daily routines, and travel to Bethlehem to experience the profound joy and comfort that the angel foretold.
These past couple of years at TCU, Advent has been a time of transition from fear to comfort and joy for me, too. Living apart from my family brings me slight fear because when I’m 838 miles away, I don’t have the comfort of my family right by my side – my dad’s help on my difficult homework, my mom’s warm hugs and my siblings’ advice and laughs on long car rides. During Advent, the looming stress of finals only adds to this discomforting fear. But the moment I step off the plane in Colorado for winter break and see my family, all that fear and discomfort fades away as I experience a moment of profound joy within a family hug. I am once again reminded of the joy of family and the gift of community that is so apparent during this Advent season and reminded to practice looking forward amidst all the stress and fear.
Joy is a mighty entity that helps us find the courage to turn even our deepest moments of fear into profound joy. In this season of Advent, there is no stronger presence of joy than in the anticipation of the Christ child’s birth. Like the shepherds, we are invited by God to name our fears and be honest about them in order to create room for the pure Joy of Jesus that is undeniable in the Advent season. Therefore, I invite all of you to think of how you will transition from fear to comfort and joy in this Advent season. I invite you to make room for the profound comfort and joy of Jesus’s birth by challenging yourself to transition out of your fears and embrace God’s love and joy.