"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.'"
- Luke 2:10-11 A bit of joy will do. We all could use that! But "great joy?" Is it almost too much to hope for?
Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? It doesn't have to be that way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read the angel's words that came on that night that changed the world. Just another night of work in the field for shepherds. A chill in the air, with serenity, and boredom. Another night of work like a thousand nights before, and just like a thousand years before when David was just a boy and stood watch in the same fields. Life hadn't changed in a millennium. And then!!! And then everything changed in a single night.
When the angel appeared, beaming with a glorious light that could only be the glory of God, those guys who were used to fending off wild beasts to protect their sheep were reduced to terror. They heard the simple words: "I bring you great news of great joy?" Probably not. Joy is hard to get hold of…
What is joy anyway? Is it something within us? Someone has said that real joy is never something that originates from within, that trying to find joy by getting it out of yourself is like believing a river can flow uphill. Maybe that's one of the reasons why so many have a hard time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie, or open a shinny gift and you might enjoy it. But joy itself - in its pure form - is so much more than enjoyment. Joy is the startling realization that God has come. He has claimed territory in this world. He's taken back what belongs to Him. And then joy is a thirst that doesn't want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It's a good thing, to never get enough of God.
And best of all, this joy about a royal entry into the world is "great" because it is everywhere. A joy "that will be for all the people." Right here, right now - that means me and it means you.
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