Advent: Great Joy
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)
Joy is a pretty common reaction when God comes near in Jesus’ birth. People are amazed, in awe, feel joy, react by praising God…
The shepherds were: “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20)
They told others, and “all who heard it were amazed” (Luke 2:18)
The angel Gabriel tells Zechariah his son “will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth” (Luke 1:14)
Elizabeth’s neighbors and relatives “were filled with awe” (Luke 1:65) and “shared her joy”. (Luke1:58)
Even John: “the baby in my womb leaped for joy”. (Luke 1:44)
Mary rejoices: “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. (Luke 1:47)
The Magi, “when they saw the star…were overjoyed”. (Matt 2:10)
This is joy that comes from good news, hope fulfilled, seeing God move in very real, tangible ways to address the pain and suffering we are facing, to fulfill the longings of our hearts. With Immanuel, God with us, the reality of heaven is on earth and we can experience that now, in real ways that bring great joy and we can’t help but praise God. At times it is the joy of anticipation. It hasn’t fully happened, but something has started, something is coming that we trust will be what we hope for. You can see this in the joy and excitement kids are expressing right now in the final countdown to Christmas. Or it is the joy of it fully happening. When our kids are actually opening and playing with presents on Christmas. Or it is the mysterious reality of the joy that comes in interacting with God, the most joyful being in the universe. Kind of like the contagious joy I feel from being around the excitement, energy and wonder my kids feel right now.
In all this there is King Herod and others (likely the ruling establishment) in Jerusalem: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matt 2:3). This king being born would be a direct threat to his rule and all those who benefited from the current socio-economic and political system. Good news and great joy to some, bad news to others. God’s presence among us can be good news, bad news or no news…more on this some other time.
For now, these last few days of Advent I bring you great news: God is near, with you, and depending on how you respond to him will bring you great joy.
To sum up these ‘Advent’ posts: Interact with him in the normal, routine ways that you have come to know, expect him to show up in unexpected ways, ways he may have hinted at beforehand, that may even offend you, doing things that may seem impossible, in you and the community around you, that inspire awe, praise and joy.