“Great Joy” - what does that mean to you as we approach Christmas?
As you battle through the shops or click the order button online, joy may mean securing a gift that you are certain will please someone! Maybe joy means receiving a nice present on Christmas morning or seeing the smile on a recipient’s face and knowing this year you did get it right! For me throughout the year joy often means the ability to negotiate the M8 in Glasgow without any tailbacks!! And football fans among you might have been overjoyed at some of your team’s results this year - not me!
However, no matter how often we see examples of joy in our own lives and those around us, such joys (temporary or sometimes longer) often bring gratitude, heartfelt thanks and a pleasant satisfaction, sometimes excitement, fervour and energy, perhaps almost a selfish smugness at times. When thinking about this we should realise that the Christian’s joy is much different from the many things we do, find, come across or experience in this world. The birth of Jesus is announced in Luke’s Gospel (ch. 2, verses 8-14):-
And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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 Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”
The “great joy” the angel speaks about is a reassuring, permanent joy not just for the Christian, but for all - the excitement of a newborn baby is supplemented with the fact that he would be the Saviour of the world! How many joys we experience give us a reassurance that there is more beyond the wonderful initial satisfaction?!
As we fast approach another Christmas, may we still enjoy all our different and fascinating joys! - but may we consider carefully that reassuring, permanent joy that only Christ the Saviour (a baby who was the Son Of God who came to seek and to save) can give.