Of all the festivities and traditions of this time of year, I’ve always most enjoyed the sense of joyfulness: Perfect strangers exchanging smiles and Christmas wishes; letters and phone calls from friends and families; concerts, as well as uplifting radio and TV programs. These have always brightened the season for me.
Although I still enjoy what I can, a more sombre attitude pervades our world this year. From addiction to unruly zealots (there, I finally found a “z” word), folks are far more wary of speaking to someone they don’t know. In the midst of an unusually cold winter, the thought of homeless folks trying to find some warmth is heartbreaking but there’s only so much one person can do. And, don’t we have constant exposure to media’s coverage of political upheaval?
Interestingly enough, world conditions at the time of Jesus’ birth were no better. Palestine at that time, was controlled by outside rulers who were “friends and allies” of Rome. A pawn situated between Syria and Egypt, political unrest and corruption marked everyday life for everyday citizens; in other words, the people back then were subjected to many of the same stresses and circumstances that we see.
In light of all this, the angels’ message of “Joy to the world” was a new voice in an old chorus. How does one experience joy in the midst of trouble? What kind of joy do these heavenly beings promise to a hurting audience? The words of that beloved carol, “Joy to the Lord”, written by Isaac Watts and the music composed by Handel are so often pushed aside. “The Lord has come”, they proclaim.
Are you going through a season of turmoil? Does joy seem far out of reach?
Perhaps, like me, you need to remind yourself: The Lord has come! Let earth receive her King!