Our fallen world makes it hard at times to see the real Christmas joy God gives us through his son Jesus. But if we’re open to finding it in unusual places it will show up sometimes in surprising ways.
In the Christmas story found in Luke’s gospel, we read where an angel of the Lord, along with “the glories of the Lord,” appear to shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It scares them to death. But then the angel tells them not to be afraid because “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”
Why joy is sometimes hard to find
Why then does joy seem so hard to find sometimes, even at Christmas and the days that follow?
In his book Christmas Joy, Mel Lawrenz writes,
Real joy never originates from within; it must come from without. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a difficult time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a Christmas cookie and you might enjoy it. Open a shiny package and you might delight in what you find inside. But joy itself – true and pure – is so much more than enjoyment.
Joy is the startling realization that God has claimed territory in this world. He has taken back what belongs to him. Every day we can remind ourselves of this revelation – reignite this joy again and again. Joy is a thirst that doesn’t want to be quenched; a hunger that knows it will go on and on. It’s a good thing to never get enough of God.
He concludes with this prayer, Dear God, turn my fear into great joy.
A few years ago I talked in this podcast about an example of real Christmas joy coming from outside of ourselves, as Lawrenz puts it. It’s episode 006, “The Gift of Joy – Part 2.” I’ll have a link to it in the show notes. You can access it by going to johncertalic.com/006.
Summary of episode 006, The Gift of Joy – Part 2.
To summarize that episode, I talked about
- Melancholy Christmas carols
- Joy being more like a cat than it is a dog
- How joy often comes as a surprise
- The beauty found in several types of relationships brings joy
- Creating a welcoming place in our heart for joy to find us
For today, I want to comment further on the YouTube video I mentioned in that episode. It is of a flash mob in a food court from a shopping mall in Ontario, Canada. I’ll also have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes, so you can watch it for yourself later. It’s really an uplifting piece and is only about 4 and ½ minutes long.
There is so much Christmas joy in that video that comes from outside of ourselves. In measured sequence, a group of people begin to stand up, and one by one start singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
It’s a very moving piece and the local media outlet thought so too, as they ran filmed it and ran it on a local TV station that night. We learn later that the stunningly beautiful voices were from members of a church choir in the area.
Reactions to real Christmas joy
Here are a few quotes from people who watched on TV a replay of the live event
“I’m not a religious person, but I found this video to be beautiful and it brought tears to my eyes, well done!”
“You can clearly see people crying… This is the most intense video I have ever seen on YouTube”
“I was deeply touched by this great performance.”
“Just watching the video nearly moves me to tears.”
“Every time I watch this I get the holy goosebumps and tears in my eyes. So powerful! THANK YOU!! and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!! Hallelujah!!!!!”
“I haven’t been to Mass in years, and I’m bawling my eyes out right now.”
“I watch this recording over and over again, because of its overwhelming impact. The happiness on the faces of those people performing, but also to those listening!”
“Though I am an atheist, yet I find myself coming back to this video over and over again. I love beautiful music and even more, I love seeing people enjoy it. I think this is wonderful!!”
Words of joy
The sacrifice this church choir made on a Saturday to entertain and bless strangers in a shopping mall is a thing of beauty. They brought real Christmas joy to unsuspecting shoppers, and in return experienced it for themselves.
The joy on the faces of the singers was palpable. You can tell from their expression the choir actually believed what they were singing. Their voices connected with their hearts, and with the hearts of the people watching
The words they sang are quite simple:
There’s the phrase repeated in Latin, translated as “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and his Christ”
And He shall reign forever and ever
King of kings forever, Hallelujah
Lord of hosts
Lord of lords, Hallelujah
Handel is masterful in using just a few words from the last book in the Bible to create joy. He weaves lyrics together with beautiful melodies, bringing hope that there is a future for all of us outside of ourselves.
That the difficulties of this life will vanish one day, and that because of the king of kings and Lord of lords, You and I can begin living as God originally intended for all mankind. Forever and ever. That is real Christmas joy to end the year. And we found it in a food court in a shopping mall in Ontario Canada, of all places.
Here’s the main point I hope you remember from today’s episode
Our fallen world makes it hard at times to see the real Christmas joy God gives us through his son Jesus. But if we’re open to finding it in unusual places it will show up sometimes in surprising ways. It may even come when we’re scared, as it did for the Shepherds in the Christmas story. Or in a food court at a shopping mall
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s show.
In closing, this episode concludes season six of You Were Made for This. Season Seven starts next week.
To end the year with real Christmas joy I encourage you again to click on the two links at the end of the show notes to get the full flavor of what I’ve been talking about. Both the food court flash mob on YouTube, and then episode 006, “The Gift of Joy – Part 2”
Thanks so much for listening in. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act and to be on the watch for real Christmas joy throughout the year. Because as you know by now, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. See you next year, next season, next week, next Wednesday, January 5th, 2022
Happy New Year, one and all!
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