Pastor and author Mel Lawrenz is interrupting his weekly How to Live the Bible series to focus our attention on the wonder of the Incarnation for the Advent season. This week, here’s a Christmas blessing for personal or church use (click here for a printable PDF version; permission granted to reproduce in full form). Christ has come!
Be sure to sign up for the free daily email devotional Christmas Joy. Many people do these 25 readings every year as a rhythm of reflecting on the wonder, the power, and the joy of the coming of Jesus the Christ. Each brief daily reading takes a word from the biblical text associated with the coming of Christ.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” — Luke 2:10-11
Great joy? Is it almost too much to hope for?
Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? A nonstop buzz of Christmas lights and weary shoppers, boisterous television specials and pleading children. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read the angel’s words that came on the night that changed the world: “I bring you good news of great joy!”
It was just another night of work in the field for the shepherds, with a chill in the air and the soft bleating of their flocks. Another night of work, a night like thousands of nights before—even thousands of years before when the shepherd David was still a boy and stood watch in those same fields. Life hadn’t changed in a millennium. But on this night, everything changed.
When the angel appeared, bathed in a glorious light, these shepherd men and boys who were used to fending off wild beasts to protect their sheep were suddenly filled with terror. Were they convinced by the simple words: “I bring you good news of great joy”? Probably not. Joy would have to come later. They would need to see proof.
That’s the way it works with joy. Real joy never originates from within; it must come from without. Searching for joy within you is like searching for the ocean within a droplet of water. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a difficult time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie and you might enjoy it. Open a shiny package and you might delight in what you find inside. But joy itself—true and pure—is so much more than enjoyment.
Joy is the startling realization that God has claimed territory in this world. He has taken back what belongs to him. Every day we can remind ourselves of this revelation—reignite this joy again and again. Joy is a thirst that doesn’t want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It’s a good thing to never get enough of God.
This “great joy”—God come into the world—is great because it’s everywhere. A joy “that will be for all the people” is here. Now. Let us delight in this tremendous news today.
Prayer for today:
Dear God, turn my fear into great joy.
Get Christmas Joy–A Devotional by Mel Lawrenz to read in December
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.