Tidings of Great Joy


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December didn’t wait long  to come around, did it?  It seems that it was a mere breath ago that we were singing carols and wishing everybody “Merry Christmas.”  But no matter whether we have Grinch feelings about the season, starting with the Black Friday blitz, or whether we are eager for “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” it’s a happy time. I hope you’ll be able to catch one of those television programs  that show Christmas Day arriving in the different time zones around the world. It will bring joy to your heart.

December should usher in a season of joy. At least, that is our expectation. What is closer to the truth, however, is that the month brings on a time of sadness for many people. Part of the problem, according to researchers, stems from the fact that  we are now “a society that has less time for the people living in it.”  So a lot of people experience feelings of loneliness and are overcome by sadness because they miss the social interplay. But the angel-song was all about joy—glad tidings of great joy that can override the encroaching gloom. After World War II, these words, part of a short poem,  were found written on the wall of a concentration camp: “I believe in the  sun even when it’s not shining.” Believe in the joy even when it seems to be missing. Make the deliberate choice to believe. A believing heart protects us from loneliness and self-pity.

Some people  look for the Christmas joy in a box, nicely wrapped and tied up with colorful ribbons, and when it’s not there, they feel let down. Yes, gifts are important, but it’s not so much the ones we get as the ones we give that matter. A star led a team of three seekers to visit the Christ Child. They gladly presented Him with His first gifts.  Joy comes from giving. In my book  Breaking Away, Lola McIntyre goes to visit her family in New York for the holidays. On Christmas Day, they first participate in a church service, and then go out to distribute gifts at a home for special youngsters. When the family members return home and sit down to a scrumptious  meal, they exude the joy that comes from sharing. When we reach out to help others, we’ll find ourselves becoming joyful.

Some individuals look for joy in a bottle of those much-touted fine spirits to  help “make the season bright,” but that is not the home of joy. Actually, it may be one of the major joy-stealers, along with the milling crowds, the stress from worrying about a long shopping list for people that are hard to please, from travel plans that seem to be unraveling  by the minute, or from a host of other un-Christmassy problems.  The real spirit of Christmas is life-enhancing and joyful.

Angels brought the good news to shepherds  that night on a Judean  hillside: “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy. , ,  for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).  This is indeed good news for us twenty-first  century shepherds sadly lacking in joy. Our world is filled with rumblings  of discontent and dismay, drowning out the joyful news published abroad by the angels. Joy is the essence of the life Christ came to give  us.  His desire is “That your joy might be full” (John 15:11). The hymn-writer Isaac Watts long ago caught this spirit of joy and penned words that can inspire us at this Christmas season.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
Let earth receive her king;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.

Merry Christmas!





Dark Days on the Fairest Isle would make a great gift for family and friends.

desktop Beautiful Christmas