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  • Shawn Thornton

Hope Brings a Burst of Joy

Saturday - December 5th

"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 5

Scripture to Read Today: Luke 1:39-45

"As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" Luke 1:44-45


The first group of POWs leaving the prison camps in North Vietnam left Hanoi on a U.S. Air Force aircraft nicknamed the Hanoi Taxi, which flew them to Clark Air Base in the Philippines for medical examinations. On March 17, 1973, the plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. Even though there were only 20 POWs of that first increment released aboard the plane, almost 400 family members turned up for the homecoming.


"Burst of Joy" is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph by Associated Press photographer Slava "Sal" Veder, taken on that day at Travis Air Force Base. The photo came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War and the prevailing sentiment that military personnel and their families could begin a healing process after enduring the horrors of war.


Smithsonian Magazine says that "Photojournalist Veder, who'd been standing in a crowded bullpen with dozens of other journalists, noticed the sprinting family of Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Strim, and started taking pictures." According to Veder, "You could feel the energy and the raw emotion in the air." After taking the photo, Veder developed it on the base, and the picture, "Burst of Joy," was sent out through the news-service. It became an iconic image of POWs returning home after the long, hard war.


That kind of burst of joy from a family welcoming home a POW warms our hearts. After Gabriel the angel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Gabriel had said that the elderly, childless Elizabeth would give birth to a son who would be the forerunner to the Messiah. Seeing her six-month pregnant cousin would be a confirmation to Mary that God's plan for Mary, giving birth to the Son of God, was real.


When the two women met, the baby (known later as John the Baptist) leaped in Elizabeth's womb. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to her younger cousin, "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"


The hope that the cousins knew was about to arrive in the birth of their sons brought joy to them both. Hope caused baby John to leap within his mother when Mary spoke. Hope that brings a burst of joy comes from God.


If you are looking for joy (and who isn't in our world of 2020), latch onto the hope that God gives us in Jesus.


When we have the hope of Christ, we experience the joy of the Lord!


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