In church last Sunday we sat behind pure joy
She swayed back and forth in her polka dot dress, keeping time to the music of the worship team.
She kept smiling at her parents and her smile lit up her face.
This adorable 4-year old was lost in praise and joy. My husband and I couldn't help smiling, too.
We sang the praise songs, but with more restraint. Blame it on being all grown-up and sensible. Experienced. Seasoned by life.
Ever since I've wanted to feel again what that young girl felt.
Could you say the same thing? Has life dragged you down?
Especially at Christmas when days are short and dark is long, we all need a joy infusion.
The angels proclaimed JOY to all the world the night Jesus was born. Remember?
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people." --Luke 2:8-10
Joy to you and joy to me.
The same joy that bubbled up in that little girl and spilled over onto the world around her.
Joy to the highest of the high and the lowest of the low
It's easy to assume the shepherds had it easy compared to life in our modern world. After all, they had nothing to do but watch quiet, gentle sheep out in those picturesque green hills we see on our Christmas cards.
Um, maybe it wasn't so peaceful--and sometimes grasses were sparse.
If you've ever been around sheep you know they're easily spooked and will run mindlessly after the first sheep that starts running.
Then there were the predators that lurked, waiting. In 1 Samuel 17 young David tells of a shepherd's life:
“I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death."
Doesn't sound too idyllic, does it?
Every day those shepherds dealt with life and death--and they got no respect from the world. They were not merchants or scholars. They lived with their sheep and probably smelled like them, coming back to their villages badly in need of a shower and a haircut.
Whatever our difficulties, Jesus brings joy
Christians are not immune from troubles and trials. The Apostle Peter wrote about that in 1 Peter 1. I love the way he describes how Jesus brings us joy, here from the New Living Translation, verses 8-9:
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inesxpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
That's our reason for joy and for praise, for swaying with the music of our lives. Through whatever comes, we know Jesus is with us.
In case you're still wondering what you think about God, start with John 3:16. You'll find the familiar Christmas story in Luke 8.
JOY to you, my friends, in the dark and in the light,