This past Sunday, I got to speak about the joy we find in the Christmas narrative. Pretty much everybody who discovered what God's plan is - and that they get to be involved in it - are filled with joy.
You know what? I don't like ending a sentence with the word 'joy' and a period.
Joy needs to have an exclamation point after it.
That's better. Okay, back to the blog post:
But it's not just at Christmas that people discover JOY! regarding God's plans:
Matthew records a story on Easter Sunday (I know, I know, now talking about Easter at Christmas. I shouldn’t do that...)
Anyways, Matthew tells us about some women heading to Jesus’ tomb on what would become known as Easter Sunday. When they arrive, they find an angel has rolled away the stone and the angel shares with them the news that Jesus has risen.
Here's what happens next:
Matt 28:8 “The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great JOY!, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.” (emphasis mine)
These women discovered something God was doing, and it filled them with JOY! These women got to be the first people to share the Gospel.
(Just quick side note here. If you're a woman and you feel that God is calling you to ministry, what more authority do you need than the fact that God chose women to be the very first messengers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? God's gifts are not separated by gender. That's my riff on that.)
The bottom line is that if you want JOY! in your life, find out what God is up to and get involved.
This doesn't mean you won't have difficult time and circumstances arise. But if we remember that God is all about renewing and restoring all of creation and we get to be a part of that, there's a JOY! at the core of that which no circumstance or situation can ever fully smother.
So share the message of JOY! that the God who made us and knows all about us loves us and wants to have a relationship with us, because this is not something we're supposed to hold onto and hoard. God was pleased to share this JOY! with us, now we should go forth and share it with others.
Put other people first by volunteering.
Do something randomly nice like paying for the check of a family at a restaurant without them knowing
Give a Christmas present to somebody totally not expecting one from you (and tell them not to go get you one, but give something to charity if they feel a need to reciprocate).
Tell stories of JOY! in your life this Christmas in honor of the God who shouted it to us through his own son Jesus!