ODJ: celebrate!

December 20, 2015 

READ: Luke 2:1-14 

Don’t be afraid! . . . I bring you good news that will be great joy to all people (v.10).

Last Christmas I read an article from a religious thinker I admire. She attempted to make the case that we should avoid the exuberant celebration of Christmas—particularly gift-giving. Her familiar complaints? The consumerism and hustle and bustle of the holidays. As we take an axe to consumerism or greed, however, we must not unwittingly also take the axe to joy. In the next few days, you’ll likely give someone a Christmas gift that feels at least a little lavish or unnecessary. You may receive one as well. I believe this mirrors the generosity of God. Certainly, joy doesn’t require expensive gifts. But joy does provide for a gregarious and generous posture toward others.

On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds cowered as the angel—shimmering with God’s brilliance—appeared (Luke 2:9). When the angel announced God’s arrival, the message included three parts: (1) do not fear; (2) God comes with very, very good news; (3) God intends to flood us with fabulous joy (v.10). The angel’s words are striking because they contradict the truths we often believe that we should be very afraid, most news will be bad, and that God is a distant miser.

Christmas, however, is a pinnacle of God’s joy. With the angels, we rejoice! With Mary and Joseph, we rejoice! With every weary heart who has found hope in God, we rejoice! With all lonely souls who have discovered the profound reality that God is their father, their friend, their Savior, we rejoice!

At our church, we always conclude our Christmas Eve service with “Joy to the World,” for that’s where the story leads. Let’s sing with the angels, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” (v.14).

—Winn Collier

365-day-plan: James 2:1-13

Read Romans 15:13 and consider the source of true joy and peace. 
Reflecting on the angel’s words, what do you think might be the correlation between joy and fear? Sing “Joy to the World” as a prayer.