The angel calmed the frightened shepherds with thrilling words. He said, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people" (Luke 2:10). Christ's coming was good news that would be mega joy, to use the terms Luke memorialized in his gospel. Mega joy!
That joy became a central theme in the teaching ministry of Jesus. In the important John 15 verses He said, "I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete" (John 15:11). Later, as this spiritual joy seemed so elusive to the suffering first century believers the Apostle Paul explained that joy wasn't a human emotion to be whipped up on demand, but was in fact a fruit of the spirit, an outgrowth of our consistent personal communion with Christ.
C.S Lewis said, "Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is". That really gets to the heart of the delusion of the season, the deception that makes so many of us despondent and disappointed during the holidays. We tend to believe that the good tidings and merriment of the season, the good cheer and giving and holiday festivity will meet the deeper internal yearnings of our heart. Emotional thrills can certainly bring momentary relief from the rigors of life. But, they are shaped by many fickle circumstances that change with the moments.
Then, there is joy, that deep experience of Christ that brings us inner peace, a calm assurance that guides us through the storms, and maintains us when we are in them. So, today we're talking joy, comparing it to the cultural icon happiness, and learning that this joy is ours in Christ.
Happy Sunday. Rejoice and be glad.