In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
- Luke 2:1-11
I bring you good news that will cause great joy. During this time of year, things can get hectic, crazy, and just plain busy. We scramble to buy loved ones gifts, we wrap, bake, attend holiday festivities, and just become feeling drained at times because of it all. But in the end it makes us happy on Christmas Day when we see our loved ones opening gifts and having a fun time.
The problem with all that though, is that we are too focused on external situations. We’re focused on our loved ones, on gifts, on parties, and cookies. But, that is what happiness is when we really think about it, isn’t it? Happiness is based on what happens to us and around us. But the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
Joy is not happiness. Yes, it’s related, as it’s feelings of great pleasure. But it is not based on external situations. Joy is deep, and strong. And for us, it is so, so special. For you see, joy is the assurance of God’s love.
The greatest event in history happened that night. The one who saves, the Messiah, was born! And you know what? Jesus was not just born for those in that era. No. Jesus came down to earth and was born for all people. He has come for anyone humble enough to accept him. And with him he brought the promise of what’s to come.
Jesus came down as an infant to be grown up and put on the cross to wash away our sins. He rose again to reunite us with God the Father in right relationship, and he is going to come again to bring us into eternal life with God.
Because we know this; no matter our situations, no matter how hectic our holidays, or trying the times, we have joy. We know what’s to come. Therefore we are able to effectively serve God in the here and now!
So yes, this season might get busy. We might feel overwhelmed and a bit unhappy at times with all the gift buying, baking, or festivities we have to attend to. But in those moments, let us never forget the joy within us.
Because we know the future, we can faithfully serve God. Whether that be sharing with the cashier as you’re buying gifts, praying at the table of the party you’re at, worshipping as you bake those cookies, praying as you wrap. No matter what we are doing, we can serve the Lord! All because we have the joy of God in us! So what is it you are going to focus on today?
Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words.1 Peter 1:8