By Heidi Looney
The Christmas season brings about one particular emotion for many – joy. While not every life experience or season we have is one of joy, we can celebrate in this season. So, who in the Christmas story helped show us the way of joy – and how do we share in it too?
The four Sundays leading up to the Christmas holiday are known as Advent, and each day has its own theme and is often accompanied by readings and the lighting of candles. The third Advent Sunday is the theme of Joy, represented by the story of the shepherds and it is after them this candle is named. In the Gospel of Luke, the moment the shepherds here about the birth of Jesus is detailed.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:10-12)
I find some insights about joy from this story and those humble shepherds. First, through God, we can turn fear into joy. Though the shepherds were initially afraid, the angels put those fears to rest and assured them that joy could be found in the moment.
Second, joy makes us bearers of good news. The angels brought the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ, and after that night, the shepherds could bring forth that good news too. Joy allows us to bring good news to others, and that makes it contagious.
Third, joy puts us in the frame of mind for rejoicing. When we struggle to find something to rejoice about or times are difficult, joy can help us. The shepherds had an ordinary night that night with the ordinary struggles of everyday life, but the good news of joy that came to them. That joy they found, brought them to the point of rejoicing. This allowed them to believe in the good news and realize that their mindsets, centered around the joy of the coming Christ, would allow them to rejoice.
This season gives us all the reason and chance to experience joy. We can let joy help ease our fears, learn to bring joy to others, and let joy lead us into rejoicing. So, this season, let joy lead your way!