GOOD NEWS, GREAT JOY
It seems that some Christmas lights and decorations are put up very early each year. But, as we have had so much to contend with over the past couple of years, it is hardly surprising that people have been looking for some extra cheer in this season, to bring some joy. The lights and decorations bring a sense of hope and cheer to brighten up the dark winter days. And for many a sense of excitement and expectation.
I have been reading recently of the ways in which Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Even though they may be living in different circumstances –threatened by persecution, going through challenging and dangerous situations or living in relative safety or comfort - Christians, from different nations and cultures, celebrate Christmas with joy: Jesus, the Light of the world has come!
The birth of Jesus, ‘God with us’, brims with joy, great joy.
The angel proclaimed to the shepherds “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” When the Wise Men saw the star, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him”.
The words of the Isaac Watts’ hymn are so apt “Joy to the world, the Lord has come”. Jesus, the Messiah, has come to save us and reconcile us to God. Praise God! The Good News of Jesus’ coming, and the promise that he will come again, is that through his death and resurrection he has won the victory over sin and death. In him we are forgiven and restored to right relationship with God.
Gladness and rejoicing are integral to the life that God desires for his creation. He wants us to enjoy him and all that he has given to us. And the joy we can experience by faith in Jesus cannot be taken away. His is a lasting joy, richer than simply a feeling of happiness when all is going well. Joy even in life’s struggles and when life hurts.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, we remember that he has come and will come again. He brings Good News of great joy. Our God reigns!
And that is worth celebrating and sharing!
Whatever we are going through and no matter what is going on around us, may we be given strength to “break forth into joyous song and sing praises” (Psalm 98) as we celebrate the coming of the “King of kings and Lord of lords”.
May we know God’s divine joy in all its depth and richness. May his joy fill us and overflow in praise and thankfulness, and our joy be clear to others. May we be beacons of joy as we bring the Good News of Jesus to those around us.