Monday, December 17, 2012
December 18, 2012
An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, 'Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:9-11).
There are moments when you know why you were born.
I open my e-mail and find a thank you note. “Your gentle questions and love helped me,” it says. “Thanks for talking with me even though I knew you were very tired.”
The note goes on, but through tears I can no longer read.
This feeling should not be confused with happiness. Happiness happens more or less when we expect it. Something goes our way; the marriage, the job, the vacation, the good things we want come to us. Circumstances turn ’round right.
But this is joy, and joy is something much more.
Joy is the fulfillment of heart. It comes when our in-most being experiences completion, ultimate satisfaction, and it is as likely to come in moments of great sorrow as at times of happiness, maybe even more likely.
Joy springs to life when our depths are touched by the divine, when mortal flesh meets the eternal substance of God and our inner emptiness is filled by love unlimited.
The Christmas story is shot through with such joy. John the Baptist leaps for joy in his mother’s womb as Mary approaches. Mary herself rejoices in the God who looks with favor on his beloved people. Angels announce good news of a great joy for all people to a clutch of shepherds on a hillside.
The angels announce the birth of the one in whom heaven and earth meet. Jesus comes as savior, the one who brings the joy of God’s life to our mortal neediness.
It seems unlikely that a child born in a cattle stall can bring anything to earth other than more poverty, let alone the joy of fulfillment
But that’s the message of Christmas. Christ comes filled with the fullness of God, the fullness we taste and know in moments when love fills our frame and our hearts taste the completion God intends.
So come once more to the stable. Run with the shepherds to see him. Run until your chest aches and all breath has left you. Gaze into Jesus face and sing songs of the miracle he is. Receive the joy awakened within.
And you will long to live everyday like its Christmas.
For prayer & reflection
· What thoughts, memories and emotions did today’s reflection awaken in you?
· What Christmas was most joyful for you?
· When have you been surprised by joy, the fulfillment and filling of your soul?
· Have you ever experienced joy amid sadness or sorrow?
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let all their songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sound joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy!
(“Joy to the World,” Isac Watts, 18th century)