Thursday, December 3, 2009
Joy To The World
Just the mention of the word "joy" brings thoughts of laughter, smiles and happy times. We recall those things that bring us joy and the moments of our lives that have been so full of joy that we have nearly burst from the memory. Joy, by definition however, is a "deep, spiritual experience". Those who were there at the manger, in the fields, and heard the angels sing, would truly know the meaning of real joy.
Nothing in the world is as joyful as the birth of a child. The scriptures even tell us that the pain of childbirth is forgotten when a babe enters the world. Recalling the births of my own children, I can say the scripture is true. Holding my son and my daughter, moments after they were born---smelling the sweet baby fragrance of their skin---snuggling against the softness of their tiny cheeks---kissing tiny rosebud lips---oh, the joy of those first moments. I am sure that Mary, in the first moments of motherhood, experienced the same flood of emotions--the same wonder of holding her tiny babe, the same overwhelming love, the same desire to protect him from the harshness of life, the same joy of having a child. But, I wonder---did she know how much joy his coming would bring to others?
To the shepherds who kept their fields by night, who saw the angelic host and heard them sing, who rushed to Bethlehem to see for themselves, could anyone know the joy that would flood their hearts as they gazed upon the tiny saviour? The message from the angels sent them on a journey that brought them into the presence of the, as yet unknown, Prince of Peace. Oh! the joy of such a moment.
To Simeon, the aged priest who knew Mary's son the moment he saw him, who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the "Lord's Christ", who was willing to face death after seeing Jesus, knowing that the babe he held in his arms would, quite literally, change the world. What joy must have filled his waiting heart.
To those of us who have experienced the thrill of salvation, whose joy has been made full by becoming children of God, whose hearts are renewed by the child Emmanuel---indeed God with us. To all of us who, by the birth of the child of Bethlehem, are now living lives free of the chains and darkness of sin. Oh! the joy of knowing we will, one day, see Him face to face. What anticipation we have. What joy springs up within us, even when the world around us is dismal and grim---the babe in the manger can still fill us with joy!!
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart, prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing."
May you, too, find the "deep, spiritual experience" of joy during this holiday season. Let us all take our eyes off of our problems, our sorrows, our despairs and let us look at the Babe in the manger. A child whose very birth changed the course of religious history---a child who loved enough to give His life---a child whose life would inspire others to follow. May our hearts today prepare Him room. May earth receive her King.