The world was in dire straits. It was a dark time in history. Rome controlled most of the civilized world. Evil dictators ruled with a cruel hand. And where was God? He had been silent for 400 years. It must have seemed to some that He didn’t care.
Then suddenly, amazingly, He sent His angels to announce joyous news. “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people,” the angel said (Luke 2:10). Joy for everyone. (That includes you and me.) And what was the exciting announcement? God had sent His Son. “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived. Not exactly as expected, but He was here. The shepherds followed the angel’s directions and found the Baby in a manger behind an overcrowded inn.
Sure enough, the shepherds were filled with joy as they knelt before the newborn Savior. And that joy spilled over to others as they shared the good news with the townspeople. Can you imagine the thrill of seeing angels light up the sky, of hearing the exciting message, and then actually being the first visitors to see the new Baby sent from God?
I’m afraid that we who have heard the story for so many years have become complacent. We have lost the wonder and the joy of the Christmas story. What would it take to ignite in us the fire of our first love for the Savior? Maybe we need to ask God to “restore to us the joy of Your salvation,” as the Psalmist prayed (Psalm 51:10).
Every year I concentrate on a particular person or phase of the Christmas story. And this year I’ve chosen the word “joy” to be my focus. The song “Joy to the World” has taken on greater significance. We sang it last Sunday in church. And I’m looking forward to playing “How Great Our Joy” at our Christmas Eve service. I’ll wear my Christmas shirt that says “JOY” across the front.
What can you do to help you focus on the message of joy this holiday season? We all need a lift. There may not be a lot of cheerful things happening around us in our world today, but we have the good news that brings joy to all people. Isn’t that worth celebrating? Isn’t that worth sharing?