Monday, January 31, 2011

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! This first stanza of a very popular Christmas hymn certainly serves a person well to remember.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing.

This week here in Wichita we had several truly beautiful days preceding the return to winter weather that we are experiencing today. Christmas is observed during the winter. Yet, because of the gift of God’s Son to the world, truly it is a time of joy.

Yesterday the little birdies were singing with all their strength. It made me wonder whether perhaps they knew that it was the last day of that unseasonably warm and gentle and friendly weather. I repeated to my wife what I believed that they were telling us.

Oh, it is a beautiful day! It is a glorious day! Sing! Rejoice! Give thanks to God! It is a wonderful day. Come out with us and give thanks to God! Today is the last of these days for a while. Waste it not! Enjoy this wonderful gift from God. Rejoice in His goodness!

It made me think of the last portion of the stanza above. It also stood as a reminder that Christmas is not limited to the season of the Church year in which we specifically observe it. As the divine service blessedly reminds us in “The Gloria in Excelsis,” the announcement of the angels to the shepherds is a never ending message.

”Glory be to God on high: and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The joy of the Christ Mass is ours every Lord’s Day, as we are fed the gift of the divinely ordained Supper of forgiveness and life and communion with God and His saints. This serves us as sustenance for every day living so that every day is a day for rejoicing in God’s goodness to us in Christ Jesus.

Earlier this week as I went to make a deposit at the credit union, one of the familiar tellers greeted me and asked how I was doing. I responded that I was surviving. “Only surviving?” she queried with puzzlement. ”Can one really be only surviving on such a beautiful day?” “The weather is not the only thing that people endure,” I gently replied. But she went on to tell me how she had the day off from school and spent time outside before coming to work and how that invigorated her. I smiled and responded, “It is an absolutely lovely day.”

That humble admission was quite powerful in its effect. For in being humbled to look beyond the things that were troubling me and robbing me of the joy of the day, my attitude was transformed. That simple admission turned me from my stubborn refusal to give thanks to God like the little birdies and to rejoice in the richness of His blessings. My spirit was revived and my heart did rejoice.

If the little birdies can see it, how much more am I able to see it, having been baptized into the Kingdom of God on earth so as to be carried to the Holy Supper where God pours out to me with the blood of Jesus the things by which true happiness and peace are mine forevermore. It is truly foolish of me to rob myself of such endless joy on account of stubbornness.

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