Tidings of Great Joy

Wait. Christmas is over, is it not? We’re back to singing other songs, outdated decorations are waiting to be swapped out, family gatherings are history, and it’s time to just settle into plain old winter. Even the New Year’s resolutions are teetering, because – surprise – we’re each still living the same life with the same person with the same struggles as before.

So why would anyone, post-Christmas, title their blog entry with a “Christmas” phrase? Really. We’ve been there, done that, sung that song, and it’s time to move on.

Unless you are my 2-year-old. Then you still ask to sing “Away In a Manger” about every day. Delightful!

Perhaps we actually have the Christmas celebrations backward… at least to the extent in which we actually remember Jesus’ birth. Think about it. How do we celebrate any baby’s birth? In the weeks leading up to the due date, there’s generally not a whole lot of celebration going on. Trust me, those weeks are some of the longest weeks involved in waiting for a baby. There’s plenty of expectation, yes, with preparation, exhaustion, emotion, and desperation, but hardly celebration. Then the big day arrives (finally!) with all the congratulations and celebration any baby’s arrival deserves. And we continue to celebrate that little life by delighting in his presence and cheering his milestones and posting his pictures, pictures, pictures.

I’m not saying you even have to celebrate Christmas. But we seem celebrate Jesus’ birth up to the moment of His supposed birthday, then cancel all the joy immediately following. Backwards. On that momentous night of Jesus’ actual birth, the angels were proclaiming “good tidings of great joy… to all people” after His arrival. Joy! For all of us! Let the celebration begin!

Forget trying to extend the holiday. The joy of Jesus’ coming is far richer than seasonal cheer, merry wishes, cookie days, and gift exchanges. The problem is actually knowing that joy, owning and living that joy, daily… right through February blues, pandemic sniffles, everyday grind, and deep disappointment. It’s hard for us to find it, to even know what it should look like (I mean, it’s unrealistic to be Pollyanna all the time, isn’t it?!), or to even want it (could y’all just let me enjoy my own misery?).

I struggle with such non-joyful attitudes more often than I want you to know. Ask my Ben; he has first-hand experience. But knowing that about myself, and seeing the new year approaching with all of its grand ideals, I decided jump on the trend of choosing a word for the year (here’s your cue to snicker behind your hand, then wish me well to my face… because I’m rather lame at keeping up with yearly goals or long-range plans). So anyway. I chose the word JOY to reflect on for this coming year as long as it lasts. I want to learn more of what true joy is, how it acts, what it looks like in my daily life. Hopefully I will even share some of those findings here, although blogging is another longish-range plan that I haven’t kept up with as much as I’d hoped.

So just to get started, I want to remember that the angels’ tidings of great joy were not just for the shepherds, but for me too. In remembering, I want to live in that joy. I want to share that joy. I want to worship with joy.

Thank you Jesus for coming to bring us joy.

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