given on the third Sunday of Advent, December 14, 2015
Joy to the World! The song seems to say so much, but how can we consider joy in the world today? In fact, joy seems like a missing emotion from our world because there has been so much negativity being broadcast at us from every medium. So how do we address this quandary?
Turn to scripture. Turn to the teachings of Jesus, Son of God, as he taught the apostles and the other followers—even he referenced angels. Therefore today’s Christians can accept the reality of angels as part of God’s universe. What is unclear comes down to the 21st century need to have a definitive answer as to who and/or what is/are angels.
Today, though, presume all that you know about angels supports our understanding that angels are the messengers from God; today, let us consider that there is an angel of joy who is in charge of one’s supply of joy.
According to two websites, angels are indeed real and they have a role within God’s heavenly structure. On the website angels.about.com the articles provide the background on Haniel, the archangel of joy. Reading through the article provides the definition of joy along with the methods to be joy-filled—angels are God’s messengers, remember.
Consider this: How can joy be defined? In the classroom, joy is discussed as an example of an abstract noun. It is a thing that is not defined by any concrete item. It is an idea or an emotion. But joy certainly is not a trait that can be identified in each person; in fact, many people seem to be missing joy in their life.
Ask kids what joy is. The answers may range from a favorite food to a favorite toy or maybe a favorite person. Some kids may start to talk about joy and discover that things do not really explain joy. The answer may shift to ideas such as joy is when you make a home run or a touchdown.
Adults might say that joy is not a thing, but a thing can make you happy. Joy sometimes is identified as being happy; but if one is happy, are they joy-filled? What, then, creates joy?
A joy-filled life is a God-filled life. Whatever one does, joy is a result of following God’s law of loving one another as one wants to be loved. Living a God-centered, God-filled life means serving one another. It means finding God in everything. It means seeing God in the midst of tragedy and celebration.
Haniel, the archangel of joy, may not be familiar in the Western Christian world. But in the study of angels, Haniel is one of the archangels possessing special qualities that provide joy to humans. Interestingly, artists may have a special relationship with Haniel.
The website about.com provides this description of Haniel:
[Haniel] . . . directs people who are searching for fulfillment to God-the source of all joy—and encourages them to stop looking for joy in their circumstances (which can’t reliably deliver joy) and start pursuing relationships with God (9n which they can truly find lasting joy).
The explanation continues to say that
Haniel is one of the chief angels [i.e. an archangel] who rules over the classes of angels called the principalities and virtues, according to Jewish tradition.
Principalities, in the Jewish tradition, try to influence leaders to follow God’s will while virtues inspire artists and scientists to new works.
Religious leaders in all denominations should follow the same work. The drive to keep our world God-centered would create a peaceful world. This is the gift God wanted us to have. He uses angels to share that message with us now as he has done since the beginning of time and will through time unending.
If we look around at the people we have in our lives, we can see examples of those who are joy-filled. Analyze what it is that makes them joy-filled. Do they live a life of service to others? Do they live life making an effort to acquire things? Do they know God? Do they live a Christ-like life?
One of the common traits joy-filled individuals possess is selflessness. Little is important unless it makes someone else happy. Real-life angels of joy have the ability to meet the needs of others in unexpected, creative ways that provide happiness and potentially open their lives to the joy of a God-centered life.
One of the web articles included a prayer to Haniel that includes key ideas of how to develop a joyful life:
- Find fulfillment in God, the source of all joy,
- Pursue a closer relationship with God,
- Learn how to return to the sense of child-like wonder,
- Include free time to notice, experience and appreciate delightful blessings around me,
- Spend relaxing time with family and friends,
- Always learn something new growing in wisdom,
- Ask God to empower you to be graceful; to give grace to others,
- Use grace to develop harmonious relationships with God and others,
- Learn how to laugh and to learn from those funny situations,
- Make time to celebrate and have fun,
- Work on creative projects, esp. to help make the world a better place, and
- Be receptive to God’s messages in various forms such as extrasensory perception and dreams.
These key ideas may be woven into a prayer, but they are the life-long recommendations to live a joy-filled life.
Only one more week remains in Advent. Begin, now, to develop or to maintain the lifestyle that fills your life with joy and provides hope to others by the love that you share. With hope, love and joy filling each person’s life, peace will ensue. God has given us the greatest gift of all—his son. All who believe and live according to the Golden Rule will receive the everlasting gift at judgment as well as a joy-filled life even now.
Dear Giving God,
Guide us as we continue through Advent
Filled with hope, love and joy.
Share with us the creative ways to share
Your story filled with grace and love.
Give us the strength to live our lives
Christ-centered in the midst of chaos.
May we serve as real-life angels
Giving to those who are lost and unhappy.
Let us thank you for joy-filled lives
By living our faith out loud. –Amen