A Room and Reason for Joy
By the world’s standards, Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus was certainly not an occasion for joy. A poor, teenage girl, under a cloud of suspicion driven away from home by a heartless bureaucracy, in the last days of her pregnancy, forced to endure a hazardous journey to a strange place where there would be no room for her or her child, except in a shelter for animals. Where is the joy?
By now we are all weary with the holiday celebration, and we may have lost sight of our joy. Where is the joy in the endless rounds of shopping, parties, cooking, or the lack of them this year? Gift wrapping, decorating? Where can we find joy in the things tradition and custom says we must do?
Among all the glitz and glitter of the holiday season, there is still the simple story of God’s great work in the world. No matter how weary, we should pause beside whatever roads we travel and hear the angels sing, to ponder as Mary did on the meaning of this event, and to share the good news as the shepherds did, and to be amazed at how God uses the simple and ordinary to bring about the magnificent.
How, despite the circumstances, is there room and reason for joy? To experience it, we must be ready to go where God leads us, as he did Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. The Christmas story is made up of simple people, a carpenter from a small village, his young wife, a group of lowly shepherds. Yet they were granted the experience of great joy. They were a part of the greatest event in history—the coming of the son of God into the world.
- What Christmas memories do you treasure the most, and why? Do any of them have to do with simple things?
- Why do you think God did not make better preparations for the birth of his son?
- What is significant about shepherds being the first ones to hear the good news about the birth of Jesus?
- Find a quiet time this season to ponder on the simple things that bring you joy—a children’s face, the warm greeting of a friend.
- Give yourself a special gift—attend (virtually) a Christmas Eve communion, a midnight service, and/or a presentation of the Messiah.
- Find someone with whom to share joy. Send a card, make a phone call, or even better, pay a visit, to someone you know who is lonely or unhappy or home bound.