But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11

Great joy? Is it almost too much to hope for?
Where does all the December-Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? A non-stop buzz of Christmas lights and weary shoppers, boisterous tv specials and pleading children. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read the angel’s words that came on the night that changed the world: “I bring you news of great joy!”

It was just another night of work in the field for shepherds. A chill in the air, calm and the soft bleating of their flocks. Another night of work, a night like those endless nights before, stretching even thousands of years before—when the shepherd David was still a boy and stood watch in the same fields. Life hadn’t changed in a millennium. But this night, everything changed.

When the angel appeared, bathed in a glorious light, the shepherd men and boys, who were used to fending off wild beasts to protect their sheep, were filled with terror. Were they convinced by the simple words: “I bring you great news of great joy”? Probably not. Joy would have to come later. They would have to see proof.

That’s the way it works with joy. Real joy is never something that originates from within: it must come from without. Searching for joy within you is like searching for the ocean within a droplet of water. Perhaps this is why so many of us have a difficult time finding joy at Christmas. Bite into a some seasonal edibles, 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.

This ‘great joy,’ God come into the world, is ‘great’ because it is everywhere. A joy ‘that will be for all the people’. It is here. It is now…..for you! 

Dear God, turn my fear into great joy.