The elevator doors opened and, of course, there was already a large crowd in the car (yep, pre-Covid). She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her along with all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed, she just couldn’t take it anymore and blurted out, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot. From the back of the car a calm quiet voice responded, “Don’t worry, we already crucified him.”
Just over a week until Christmas. How’s your joy? What is Christmas doing to your joy? Christmas as the world celebrates it, Christmas as you work so hard to orchestrate it… How’s your joy? Christmas as affected by politics and pandemic…how’s your joy?
Last Sunday’s Old Testament lesson offers some encouragement. Christ is speaking through the prophet Isaiah seven centuries before he takes on human flesh:
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the afflicted. He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion, to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, a cloak of praise instead of a faint spirit, so that they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord to display his beauty.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
The audience for this Scripture? The afflicted, the brokenhearted, the despairing, those who mourn and stress and struggle, – in short, your average December Christian walking through a whirlwind month where there’s no letup whatsoever. We know that this season brings moments of joy, but they’re only temporary. Sounds a lot like life – moments of joy and ecstasy, but they’re soon gone, only temporary. Isaiah puts us on track for true and lasting joy.
If our search for joy leads us to things rather than a Person, it will fail. If our search for joy centers in people (who can gather and who can’t) rather than in a Person named Jesus, it will fail. If our search for joy is centered in the flash of season rather than the flesh of the Savior, it will fail. The world’s view of joy: temporary, short-term feelings, keep looking for hits or momentary pleasure. God’s view: true joy is something you can always have, it’s a pervasive and consistent sense of well-being found only in Christ.
More from Isaiah: “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord. My soul will celebrate because of my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation. With a robe of righteousness he covered me, like a bridegroom who wears a beautiful headdress like a priest, and like a bride who adorns herself with her jewelry. For as the earth produces its growth, and as a garden causes what has been sown to sprout up, so God the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up in the presence of all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:1-3, 10-11)
Note especially the underlined portions above. Regardless of our circumstances, we have true joy in Jesus! Take a breath, take a pause, look for Jesus in his Word. There…joy!
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand