In the Nativity stories (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2), joy is continually expressed upon the realization that Israel’s Messiah has finally arrived in the baby Jesus. The hope of deliverance has come. Israel’s king has come to set things aright. This elicited great joy in Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon, and Anna.
I was pondering where we can find joy today in the Christmas season. It is true that there is joy in our salvation, the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. But, how about as a community? Consider this, Ephesians 5:18-21 says,
Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and submit to each other out of respect for Christ.
Often, when we think we are lacking joy, peace, hope, love, freedom, etc., we find ourselves going to old ways of coping with whatever difficulty we are experiencing. “Don’t get drunk on wine…” can stand for anything we would use or do to find relief. The passage instead encourages us to find fulfillment through the Holy Spirit within the people of God. Joy comes realizing your belong to the family of God. Joy comes through worshiping God in song and through giving thanks. Joy comes when we live openly with one another in Christ.
Let’s not do the same old thing this Christmas season. Let’s have an open heart to experience God in both familiar and unfamiliar ways. And, when you are with others, take joy in Emmanuel, “God with us!”
Grace and peace,