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Joy for the world and for all people

December 16, 2010 2 Comments

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!” (Luke 2:10 KJV).

by Paul Zabel

How many times during the days and weeks preceding December 25 do you think you will hear or share the greeting “Merry Christmas”? At the very least, no doubt, you will cheerily hum a few fa-la-la-la-las. Bells will be jingling across the land during this time, especially during the days immediately before Christmas, and Christians everywhere will sing “Joy to the World.” After all, as we are often reminded, “This is the most wonderful time of the year!”

Joy should be everywhere now, shouldn’t it? We journey year after year in faith to Bethlehem, to kneel in awe and adoration of the little baby in the manger, the world’s Saviour, Jesus Christ. We celebrate and announce to the world that this Divine Gift of love, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, brings joy from heaven to earth. Jesus brings joy for the world…for everyone, everywhere!

Even with joy surrounding us, some people experience the “merry side of Christmas” only to slide quickly into despair. Their ‘fas’ are strong early in the season, but before long their ‘las’ fall flat. And they’d rewrite the carol to say, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year—depending on the day and situation, of course.”

Think about it…
• Some dread their first Christmas without someone they loved, while others anticipate their first Christmas with someone they love.
• Some receive a helpful end-of-the-year financial windfall, while others find themselves falling more and more into debt with no help in sight.
• Some find the season invigourating, while others find it nerve-wracking.
• Some couples celebrate their first Christmas as husband and wife, while others experience their first as ex-husband and ex-wife.
• Some come to life surrounded with people, while others deal with loneliness, even when surrounded with people.
• Some feel overly blessed, while others feel overly stressed.

As we come to adore the Saviour, each of us brings blessings as well as various burdens to the manger. But in our journey to kneel before the Bethlehem baby may we also take some time to pause and notice the people around us. For in many ways, we as people are travelling together. We bring our various life situations and travel side by side in faith. And it is important to realize we travel by faith only because the Divine Child, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, first journeyed from heaven to earth. His life here—His birth, death and resurrection—can conquer any loneliness, any anxieties, any stress and any other burdens we bring before Him.

We travel together, not just to give our worship but to receive from the One we worship. What is it that He gives? Jesus brings joy for the world! He brings joy for your world and mine. The angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, saying: “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people!” (Luke 2:10). This joy Jesus brings isn’t just an emotion that ebbs and flows. His gift of joy comes packaged with peace and grace, and it’s not only addressed to those feeling blessed, but also to those feeling stressed or even depressed. Jesus’ gift isn’t necessarily a jump-up-and-down joy, although it certainly can be that. It’s a joy that settles deep in our hearts. It’s a joyful, content peace. This Divine Present comes with Jesus’ presence. It rightly brings our focus to the gift named Jesus and the joy that accompanies His presence in this world, in our world.

Remember, His joy is for everyone, everywhere. The angelic announcement of Jesus’ birth includes the important message that this Good News of great joy is for all people!

May joyful Christmas blessings in Jesus be yours and yours to share…this Christmas and forever!

Rev. Paul Zabel is president of Lutheran Church–Canada’s East District

2 Comments »

  • Mark said:

    HI Pastor Zabel . Greetings in the name of Jesus. Thank you very much for your wisdom and wonderful Christmas message. I was wondering Pastor if you would say a prayer for the persecuted Christians in Islamic societies around the world today? An Iraq Christian church was recently terrorized by Muslim terrorists. A four year old child was shot on the alter in front of his mother. The ciaos is extremely alarming and the situation extremely dangerous for any Christian in Islam today. An Egypt Christian church was shot at last Christmas, as people began to leave many were killed and wounded including children. As you know Pastor Zabel I have been evangelizing to Muslims for many years. I have always held a love for them with a deep passion in my heart to convict them that Muhammad was a sinner like every other man born from a man and a women. Muhammad made himself out as a god a non sinner, as you may well know. Jesus is the only One that can claim He had no SIN and nor was He born a sinner for He came in this world to save us from our sins. While this same message is being proclaimed here Pastor this letter of Hope that you have shared with us this Christmas, my heart also feels the pain for the persecuted Christians in Islamic societies that cannot see it or share it with whom they want. Islam does not alow Christians to speak in Public about their faith. Now the churches are coming under attack and are being destroyed. If you could remember them in your prayers Pastor Zabel.
    May God bless you and your family.
    Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.
    In Jesus.
    Mark Harding.
    Attending Member
    Lutheran Church in Toronto.

  • Mark Harding said:

    http://www.persecution.org/2010/12/20/islamic-militants-destroy-underground-christian-library-in-somalia/

    Islamic Militants Destroy Underground Christian Library in Somalia

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