"…I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…" Luke 2:10 NRSV
Dear Friends at SSUMC,
The ancient Egyptians believed one was asked two questions before they could enter into the after life. The first question was this: Have you found joy in your life? The second question was: Has your life brought joy to others?
What is joy? How would you define it? The shepherds in the field heard the angel of the Lord say to them that he was bringing "good news of great joy." The word for joy here in the Greek is chara. It derives from a root word that is a root word for another important word in our Christian dictionary: grace or charis. Yes, grace and joy are cousins! The idea behind joy is this: receiving something that is free and gracious and filling. When the angel spoke of joy he spoke of the gracious hand of God in giving Christ.
In Discipleship Journal, Paul Thigpen tells about discovering that joy in his life one day in a mess. Listen to what he writes:
"I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before was now a terrible wreck. My young daughter had obviously been busy "cooking," and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor. I was not happy with the situation. Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess, I spied a tiny note on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolatey fingerprints. The message was short - "I'm makin sumthin 4 you, Dad" - and it was signed, "Your Angel." In the midst of that disarray, and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure. My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved. As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her. With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in a situation that seemed otherwise disastrous."
Take a lesson from Paul's experience. Listen to the Angel's direction. Find joy in the mess of your life by finding the gracious, giving, loving God in Christ's presence, power and voice within the messes!
Pastor Paul A. Fryman