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“For behold, I bring you good news of great joy…….for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:10,11
“Joy to the world, no more let sin and sorrows grow”. “I bring you good news of great joy” Joy? Really? Have you seen the world today? Have you seen my life? Where do I start with what’s going wrong! Joy? Really? This is more like a time of depression and despair instead of joy. Maybe there was joy back then but joy? Today? Really? I often I see these type of sentiments expressed in many different forums in today’s world. Thus what should be our reaction to the reason for the season.
Yes joy, really, absolutely. So do understand, I do know depression for I have battled it. I know disappointment, even and especially at this time of year. From and where and why should I or do I have any right to have joy when I look at the state of the world or the state of my life?
We’ve heard an aspect or narrative of Christmas being under attack. From the outside, it can be considered insensitive to those of other faiths or no faith, to use the words Merry Christmas. Religious symbols should not be shown in conjunction with government or even public places. Santa Clause is okay but Jesus Christ is not. Yes I will admit that the worldly want nothing to do with the Christ in Christmas.
Yet I’ve also seen a trend of late in houses of faith that I believe is rooted in a proper intent but that can also minimize or, in fact, leave out the message of joy altogether. I’m talking about the desire to strip away the colorful “mythology” that has grown around our Savior’s birth and stress the “factual reality” of the occasion. True, the bible has no drummer boy. We read nowhere of animals talking at midnight at the birth of Christ. Yes the shepherds would have been looked down by most of the society at the time. However, the very real challenge of wanting to dig into and focus on the “factual” nature of world of the time is to minimize the otherworldly, virtually incomprehensible, utterly immeasurable, joyous event and gift that took place on that day.
Joy? Why joy? Quite simply because God came to earth! God came to earth! Well Doug, you might ask, hadn’t God been to earth before? Yes, there are brief instances where God came to earth, but only momentarily and also He came as God of Heaven, in heavenly form. God came in a form that no person could behold and live. Moses, one so close to God and such a wonderful servant of God, could only glimpse God’s back in passing or Moses would have been destroyed. Now God was again coming to earth. But now He was also coming in human form; and not just some shell or likeness of human. No in some miracle too wonderful to fully understand; Jesus Christ was full human and fully God in one being.
Joy? Joy really? In other religions, did’t their gods come down to earth and take human form? Yes in the worldly religions there are stories of gods coming to earth, but more often it was for selfish or even sinister reasons. The One True Son of God came down, not to trick, not to get revenge, not to dupe some unwitting soul; no, Jesus Christ came down for one reason and one reason only. Jesus Christ came to save you and I. He came for our salvation. The only way Jesus Christ could do that was to take our place. To suffer the judgement we so deserve and He never did.
Jesus Christ came that through Him, we might live in relationship now and forever with our Father in Heaven; to live a life of abundance, knowing a peace and yes, joy that surpasses all understanding. Joy, absolutely Joy.
Also understand this; this was defeat for the enemy. When Jesus Christ came, the enemy lost the war. Yet, even though defeated the enemy still has not stopped fighting. That is one of the reasons that this time of year can be such a fraught filled time. The enemy will throw everything he can at this time to try to rob us of joy. He will try guilt, sorrow, worldly desires, worldly distractions, misdirection; whatever he can do for us to lose focus and turn away from Jesus Christ and the celebration and joy that should be natural from His gift of salvation.
Not only for us, but the enemy wants to show the world, believers acting without joy at this time of year. Why should people who don’t know Christ, feel positively toward seeking Christ if his own followers can’t or won’t feel and express joy at this time of year.
Thus Dear Sisters and Brothers, reject the world and its temptation toward darkness especially at this time of year. While our joy can and should be triumphant, it should not be separating or prideful. That is to say, we deserve the joy and you, unbelievers do not because we are better. No, instead let our joy be infectious and inviting. Let it be a shining light placed on the proverbial hill for all to see; people of faith or not. Let the joy be humble, acknowledging that it comes solely and souly from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the plan of our Heavenly Father, revealed to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Joy? Yes Joy! Joy to the world! And in that more recent song written and sung a few millennia Joy to you and me! May you have a joyous Merry Christmas as well as joy filled next year.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, that we cannot adequately express our profound gratitude at the gift of sacrifice of Jesus Christ should not keep us from trying. We thank You that Your plan for Christ was that of salvation and not judgement. Through Your Spirit, reveal to us the true joy and peace that we should be feeling and expressing at the coming of Jesus Christ. Forgive us, Most Merciful Father, when allow the despair of the world to rob us of the joy You so desire us to have. Through Your Mercy and Power, restore us to a sense of joy, peace and reverent worship, that will be inviting to those who don’t You and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.