Monday, Dec. 10 – Scott Pitts

10 Dec

Monday, Dec. 10 – JOY

Today’s Scripture:
Isaiah 60:1-3
Luke 1:5-17

Reflections on JOY…

As a child, one of the TV specials that I could watch was “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  I haven’t seen this classic in a number of years but whenever I think of joy and Christmas I am reminded of the verses out of Luke which Linus reads, in his lispy way, saying, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2.10-11)  Thinking of this line still makes me smile.

This year I have been thinking about those 2 verses even more.  The context of those verses are about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  An angel of the Lord appears to some poor and despised shepherds (shepherding back then was not a romantic occupation, like we may think, but a lowly, despised one).  The words that the angel uses are very close to words that were used in reference to the birth of Augustus, the future emperor of Rome.  One inscription calls him a “savior” and…“the birth date of our god has signaled the beginning of good news for the world”.  In the story of the True Savior, the angel is not just proclaiming a nice little gospel in the void of space and time.  What he declares is a hostile takeover of the world.  The kings of the world are on notice because the true king, the true heir, the true inheritor of all the promises of God has just been born…  and he is right over there in a feeding troff!  This is a subversive proclamation.

So what should the response be to this  “call to arms”?  Joy.  Great joy.  Not anger.  Not rage.  Not vengeance.  But joy.  Simple joy.  Celebrate that the long awaited king is here.  Even though the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain against the Lord and his Messiah, we have joy.  Even though the message of this great king’s arrival is first given to a bunch of ragged shepherds…  shepherds who can do nothing to make this baby king’s mission effective.. they are only told to have joy.  When it looks like everything is stacked against this little one, there is to be joy.

Conceived in the womb of an unwed little girl.

Joy.

Monetarily poor.

Joy.

Alone.

Joy.

Born in the night, the night of the day and the night of the world.

Joy.

Is this to be a joy of celebration?  Maybe.  Or maybe the joy of the fearful and oppressed now looking straight  into the eyes of the greatest enemy and the darkest terror of night.  They can now feel a small, unstoppable smile start to grow across their face from the joyful knowing that the sun is about to rise, the darkness is about to be broken and restoration is about to begin… and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.

            “Arise, shine, for your light has come,

            and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

            For darkness shall cover the earth,

            and thick darkness the peoples;

            but the Lord will arise upon you,

            and his glory will appear over you.

            Nations shall come to your light,

            and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”

            Isaiah 60.1-3

So as we celebrate with joy the coming of Israel’s Messiah into the world with friends, family, decorations, food, songs, presents, smiles and joyful laughter let us also remember that this is the coming of the King and his kingdom.  A kingdom of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17).  Rome is gone.  Other kingdoms have risen and declined but this king and His kingdom dominates.  It dominates with righteousness, peace and joy, fueled by the Holy Spirit.

-SP

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