In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘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 2:8-11
The time for joy is now—right now! OK, admittedly we may feel happy when we cross the midnight threshold into 2021. And I cried happy tears when I saw the videos of UPS 18-wheelers loaded with vaccine rolling out of Michigan. Happiness is a good thing, but it comes and goes. Joy is different. It lives within us no matter what. Joy is a spiritual energy. It is the very water of life. Joy is with us even when our lives seem as boring and mundane as watching over sheep night after long, chilly night. Notice the word is, “seem.”
As the shepherds in the narrative of Jesus’ birth discovered, life is never really boring or mundane. It can always surprise us and take us down a new road, one that we could never have predicted. When you least expect it joy pops out and makes its presence known. How does joy do that, come out of nowhere? It doesn’t. Joy is never nowhere. It isn’t even hiding. We simply haven’t noticed it. Those impressive angels, those messengers of good news, that terrified the shepherds out in the lonely hills had always been singing. For some reason that particular night, the shepherds finally got the message and heard the music. They were ready to learn something more about themselves—that they too were worthy of good news. They too were meaningful, valued, visible. They mattered to God. When the shepherds were given the news about the Christ Child they were more than invited, they were told, to go and find Him. And they did. They took themselves and their sheep, scruffy as they all were, right into the very presence of the Christ. They said “yes” to God’s invitation to joy.
This Christmas may you hear the angels singing in you with such beauty, such warmth, such love, that you too make haste, just as you are, into the very presence of the Christ that lives with such joy in you.
In the Love and Light of Christmas,