"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10
Everything about this week has pointed to this one tiny word: JOY. In one sense, I'm indignant about Joy. It's word that's thrown around carelessly this time of year on advertising, gift wrap, cards, and mall decorations. We're to have joy because of the season, the feelings, the goodwill, the snow, the shopping, the family and friends. But joy that's founded on fleeting things is worthless in the end. When the Christmas lights are stored away, when the parties are finished, when the holidays are over, there's this sense of let-down... that the joy didn't last.
And so I've been considering a lasting joy this Advent. The announcement of Jesus' birth by the angel promised good news and great joy for all people. This is the joy that lasts. The God-man coming down from Heaven, the all-powerful God limiting Himself to a virgin's womb, for you. The all-just God becoming your punishment, your shame. The holy, pure, light of the World coming into darkness, getting Himself dirty, for you. The Word that spoke the universe into existence, speaking on your behalf. This is the ultimate story of reconciliation, of redemption, of beautiful incredible unfathomable love.
So this Advent, this Christmas, and every day of my life, I choose joy. I choose to see beyond my circumstances and trust that I'm in my Father's hands. What joy and life there is there!
Charles Spurgeon's sermon, "Joy at Bethlehem", speaks the words I'm trying to say much more eloquently. Here's an excerpt:
"Rejoice, O sinners, everywhere for the restorer of the castaways, the Saviour of the fallen is born. Join in the joy, ye saints, for he is the preserver of the saved ones, delivering them from innumerable perils, and he is the sure prefecter of such as he preserves. Jesus is no partial Saviour, beginning a work and not concluding it; but, restoring and upholding, he also prefects and presents the saved ones without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing before his Father's throne. Rejoice aloud all ye people, let your hills and valleys ring with joy, for a Saviour who is mighty to save is born among you."
(Thanks to Cheri Dobbs who spoke at the Eagan Hills Christmas Tea for her words of truth and life, which inspired many of the words written here.)