by Rev. Cara Morgan, Ministerial Intern, First Baptist Pendleton
I’ve always felt a special affinity with the quality of Joy; it’s by far my favorite Fruit of the Spirit. You see, my middle name’s Joy (and who wants to name Self-Control as their favorite?). I’ve always really liked my name, and I’ve often thought of it as a blessing. I love more than anything to joke around, and, over the years, I’ve used my middle name in a number of really bad jokes (mostly to the tune of: my name is Joy, not Grace; so, as long as I can laugh at my own clumsiness…). A number of special people in my life call me Cara Joy, and I treasure those relationships and their associated memories whenever I hear my middle name.
Sometimes, though, I feel like it is hard to live up to my name. This seems especially true during this busy season. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of Advent and Christmas, well, sometimes being joyful simply sounds exhausting.
But joy is so central to the Christmas message. In fact, when the angels appear to the shepherds in Luke 2:10, they refer to their message about the Christ child as “Good news of great joy for all the people.” It’s encouraging to me that this joy is for everyone – not just for children, or for saints, or for those who have more than they need, or for those who have it all together. The joy of Christ’s birth is for all of us, because God is not only with me, or you, or any certain group of people; God is with all of us.
Yes, this season is busy; yes, it’s stressful; yes, it’s not quite as magical as when we were all children. But, there is so much joy to be found in Christmas – in our family, in our friends, in the music, in the decorations, etc. And there is so much joy to be found in the Lukan Christmas story – in visits between Mary and Elizabeth, in the song of Mary, in Jesus’ birth in a manger, in angelic choruses in the midst of shepherds in the fields. And the joy continues throughout the gospel story; after all, it is “Good News!”
May all of us, this Christmas season, not only find that joy for ourselves in the midst of a busy time, but also share that joy with those around us. After all, the Good News shared by the angels in the Bethlehem fields is for all people (with no exceptions!).