Where is the Joy to the world?
Is Christmas the season to be jolly? Or is it a tough time of the year for some?
It’s that phrase that fills some with excitement and others with fear, a season of enforced happiness and celebration for all.
It seems to start earlier each year, with Christmas isles appearing in our supermarkets in October, more elaborate Christmas decorations springing up in November and Christmas music on, play and repeat, reverberating in every public space we enter.
We are reminded again and again that ‘tis the season to be jolly’ and many feel the pressure to spend money they don't have to somehow capture the elusive joy-filled Christmas.
Before you think I have turned into ‘Scrooge’ or a ‘Grinch’ character, I want to say that I love the Christmas festivities as much as the next person but I am also aware that for many people JOY is the furthest thing from peoples minds over this season.
In 2016, according to the Guardian over 124,000 children were staying in temporary accommodation over the Christmas period, a rise of 10%. Thousands were homeless on the streets, many celebrate Christmas alone without loved ones or friends.
The Independent newspaper suggests that the first Monday in January has now been labelled ‘divorce day’ as lawyers prepare for the rush of people wanting to divorce after the pressure of the Christmas break.
Without starting on issues of debt, greed or justice, it would be reasonable to ask ‘where is the JOY to the world?’
An artist by the name of Giulio Paolini created a sculpture called L'altra Figura. The two minimalist figures made out of white plaster were stationed on square plinths staring down at some broken pieces of plaster which were all over the floor. The two characters were helpless to intervene or interact with the broken pieces around them. They appeared to merely observe the mess powerless to act.
Many people view God as these plaster figureheads, if they believe he exists at all. He appears distant, disconnected from the realities of life, watching from a place of comfort on the world he has created.
Some may suggest it is easy for God to talk about joy in the luxury of heaven when it’s us who are faced with the challenges of the earth.
John’s gospel, however, paints a very different story of the creator God. Jesus the WORD with God and part of God spoke the world into existence, but rather than remaining distant from the world John 1:10 declares, “He came into the world he created”. John continues, “the Word became human and made his dwelling among us”.
The fantastic Joy of the Christian message is that the Saviour came on a rescue mission himself. The good news came personally and introduced himself to the world he created. The Joy to the world is a personal joy we can experience through the person of Jesus Christ. It was Richard Wagner expresses it like this: “Joy is not in things…HE is in US!”.
As Christ followers, we have a certain eternal hope that lifts us beyond our present circumstances, ultimately to a FUTURE that has been guaranteed in the presence of the almighty GOD with Jesus Christ himself. We also have a present reality to encounter and experience Jesus in each circumstance of life. His presence itself is JOY...
Let’s follow the example of Jesus and step into the world we are so familiar with this Christmas season with a fresh perspective. Let’s recognise our responsibility as JOY carriers in a world searching for real JOY.
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