Where is Your Joy?
by Debbie Holloway
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
The winter season can be bleak for many. Students are preoccupied with their work. Others become easily stressed with the pressure to plan (and cook for) family gatherings associated with the various winter holidays. Some of us even struggle with S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder), a medical condition where melancholy and sorrow creep up, due in part to the lack of sunshine.
There is something special, then, about the coming of spring. About seeing daffodils peek their yellow heads above the ground for the first time.
I imagine the Jews of Jesus’ day longed for the spring of the Lord’s favor. No word from the Lord had come for a long time. Jews were living under a powerful, pagan Roman government. While the people were not necessarily miserable or oppressed, their joy perhaps had worn a little thin. They no doubt pined for something better.
Imagine, next, the Shepherds who were visited by Angels on the night of Christ’s birth. The hum-drum of their evening duties, perhaps even their sleep, was interrupted in a big way.
And the glory of the Lord shone around them.
And they were terrified.
But the terror was short lived, of course. What terror can stand against such amazing, incredible, joy?
A savior has been born to you.
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about" they exclaimed (Luke 2:15).
Is it any wonder that the third candle of Advent, the Joy candle, is called The Shepherd’s Candle? Perhaps no other figure in the nativity story was blessed to receive such unblemished, unmitigated joy as the shepherds were. There they were, pegging away like every other day, when – for no reason other than God’s favor – they were given the gift of joy. They were shown the Messiah, their looked-for Messiah, and had glimpsed into that eagerly-awaited spring of the Lord’s favor.
This season, as Christmas edges ever closer, let us remember this joy. We too await another awakening: the Lord’s second coming. We continue to fight through the pangs and groaning of a world which continually gives birth to sin. But, in this season, let us remember the Incarnation with as much joy as did those first witnesses.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” –John 16:21-22
Intersecting Faith and Life: Is your joy in Christ such that no one can take it away? If not, take some time to meditate on God’s gift of an incarnated Christ to the world.