Good News of Great Joy
The word “JOY” seems to be everywhere this Christmas season. I see it in stores, on greeting cards, as a movie title, and hanging as a decoration in homes. I’ve always taken special notice of this word because “Joy” is my middle name. My parents tell me they gave me this middle name because they were filled with “joy” when I was born. That’s a meaningful sentiment for me to carry through life about the way my parents feel about me. As an adult, though, I sense that this name is even more important now. My natural tendency is to consider possibilities, improvements, and to dwell on challenges. Those tendencies keep me from the joy that is intended as a way of life. I like that I have the reminder to keep coming back to joy because it’s part of who I am.
The word joy is so easily confused with the word happy. Happy is defined as: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc. (Merriam Wesbter). Joy is different- it’s an overall state of being not just caused by a happy situation.
We live in a world that is desperate to find true and lasting joy. This Christmas season has been marked with a lot of fear and sorrow in our world. In the world fear of terror is growing. In the community I live there was a tragic car accident of high school students in early December. With those I care about there are challenging jobs, financial burdens, and health concerns. In my home we are making our way through the wonderfully exhausting years of raising a family. I’m sure you could fill in your own list of trials before you.
Today I’ve been dwelling with the angels words to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The arrival of JESUS brought great JOY to the world for all people. Not just then, but now.
Somehow we are to make space to experience the fullness of that joy even in the midst of our circumstances. What is that for you this Christmas? A simple time by the tree reading Luke 2, listening to Christmas carols that speak of the Savior’s birth, lively worship, giving to someone in need, pausing to write a letter to a loved one, or enjoying a special meal with your family? You fill in the blank. Whatever it is, make time to allow the JOY of Jesus’ arrival to fill you up even amidst your circumstances.
He brought good news of great JOY for all the people. Live the JOY this Christmas.
Kim Laufenburger, Executive Minister
and Camp Director at Hope Shores