“Running to the window, he opened it and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; golden sunlight; heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!
‘What’s today?’ cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.
‘Eh?’ returned the boy with all his might and wonder.
‘What’s today, my fine fellow?’ said Scrooge.
‘Today!’ replied the boy. ‘Why, Christmas Day.’”
Scrooge was a changed man after his night of struggle. He felt he had a new lease on life. His outlook on life was changed. He experienced joy.
Joy is found throughout the Christmas story. It was promised to Zechariah that the birth of his son John the Baptist, the one who would introduce Jesus to the world, would bring “joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth . . .” (Luke 1:13 NRSV). His wife Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, felt that the child in her womb “leaped for joy” (Luke 1:44) when Mary came to visit her. The angelic messenger told the shepherds that he was bringing them “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10 NRSV), and after they had found and worshiped the infant Jesus, the shepherds returned to their flocks “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen . . .” (Luke 2:20 NRSV). Even the Magi who came later to visit the newborn King were “overwhelmed with joy” when the star led them to find Jesus (Matthew 2:10).
The apostle John wrote that the message of the coming of Jesus to the world was a message that brings joy in the telling.
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4 NRSV)
What is it about the message of Jesus – the message of Christmas – that brings us joy? Timothy Keller writes that “. . . the joy that Christmas brings, the assurance of God’s love and care, is like a subterranean river of joy, a fountain of mirth, that will always reinvigorate you no matter the circumstances of your life.” You and I can know a deep and lasting joy when we come to know Jesus and receive the new life He came to bring.
Keith and Kristyn Getty are modern hymn writers who are giving the church many new songs that are musically beautiful and theologically faithful to Scripture. Their song, “Joy Has Dawned,” is a wonderful retelling of the Christmas story, and affirmation of the joy we know when the message of Christmas truly fills our hearts.
Joy has dawned upon the world, promised from creation –
God’s salvation now unfurled, hope for every nation.
Not with fanfares from above, not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love – Jesus born of Mary.
Sounds of wonder fill the sky with the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of life shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place, shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast, vulnerable and helpless.
Shepherds bow before the Lamb, gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands prophesy the story.
Gold – a King is born today, incense – God is with us,
Myrrh – His death will make a way, and by His blood He’ll win us.
Son of Adam, Son of heaven, given as a ransom;
Reconciling God and man, Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a Friend! What a glorious mystery!
Once a babe in Bethlehem, now the Lord of history.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6 NRSV). Jesus was born. He lived and died in our place for our sins. Jesus rose from the dead and is reigning as King in heaven today. By his Holy Spirit He is present in the world today and within everyone who receives Him as Savior and Lord. May the message of Christ and the presence of Christ give you great joy this Christmas day and every day.
To subscribe and receive A SONG TO THE LORD in your email, just follow this link. And if you are interested in other devotional writings by Rusty Rabon, click here. T. M. Moore and Rusty Rabon host THE AILBE PODCAST, which you can find here. Rusty also hosts a Zoom book reading program called READING GREAT BOOKS five nights each week (Thursdays through Mondays). The Zoom link and current book information is available here.