Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Joy—unmitigated gift! We can’t conjure it or manufacture it or fake it. When it comes to us we can only receive it on its own terms.
Though counter-intuitive, it’s possible to resist or deny joy. We might ask, Who in their right mind would ever refuse such a gift? A quick glance around the city, well, a quick inventory of our own inner being reveals the stark truth: many are defended against receiving joy since all it requires is an open heart and open hands.
For those with much it’s hard to fathom the joy among those with little. Such has been my experience working within desperately poor but astonishingly joyful communities over the years. Joy was not dependent upon material means, nor the accumulation of lots of stuff or comfortable quarters, but simple acknowledgment that God is, God loves, God saves.
It’s no accident God comes to us in poverty. And no accident that poverty is accompanied by joy. Oh, that we could be so poor of spirit this Christmas, so open and receptive to what God has for us, that joy would invade our hearts!
Prayer: Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love! Amen.
~ Rev. Dr. Stephen Bauman