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All I Want for Christmas Is Joy

I bring you good news of great joy. -Luke 2:10

All I want for Christmas is Joy.  I want it for myself.  I want it for you.  I want it for our churches and the world.  I believe it’s what you want too; what everybody wants.  Why else would the angels announce Jesus’ birth by saying, I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!

I don’t see much of it.  Recently, joy has not been highly visible.  I’m convinced that most people don’t know joy.  The evidence shows joy is missing.  I see it in faces, on the street, in stores, in homes, in the church.    I see it in attitudes—anger, bitterness, frustration.  I see it in actions—childish, un-Christian, sinful.  We may identify many “reasons.”  It has been a tough year or couple of years, locally, nationally, in the world.  Individually, some of us have had a hard time, and the church has its struggles as well.  But perhaps the real reason is that most of us just haven’t been very good Christians.

“For all the greeting card and sermonic rhetoric, I do not think that much rejoicing happens around Christmastime, least of all about the coming of the Lord.  There is, I notice, a lot of holiday frolicking, but that is not the same as rejoicing.”  (William Stringfellow, “A Keeper Of The Word” in CT, 12/3/01, 66)

It is one of those words, which everyone knows but little understands. It is not an easy idea to define.  The original messengers of this Christmas message were angels.

 “There are some truths too great, too sacred, too Divine for any impure human mouth to have been the first to utter them.”  (Theodor Christlieb, Great Sermons On The Birth Of Christ, 115)

Happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, delight are often mistaken for, confused with joy. The Biblical idea of joy has an element missing from all of those synonyms—permanence.  It is not transitory.

But underlying it all is that joy is in God’s presence in Jesus.  The world has many counterfeits but only real abiding joy is found here.  It is what we were created for.  The historic expression puts this way: “The whole duty of man is to love God and enjoy him forever.”

One person put it this way: “I’m 83, and I’m more excited today about being a Christian than I was at eighteen when I put my feet upon the Way.”  The theologian Nels Ferre, entering this experience, said, “The birds sang a new song that night and the trees all wore halos….The very air was softer and utterly mysterious.  Never can I forget the strangeness and wonder of it all.”

I bring you good news of great joy.  It’s Christmas.

 

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