The nativity is close at hand. Our tree is up, decorations festoon the house, most of the Christmas presents have been purchased and carols are playing in the background. “Joy to the world” is one of those songs. It combines the themes of hope and joy. Let’s meditate on the connection between help and joy by reading the traditional lyrics:

  1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her King!
    Let every heart prepare Him room,
    and heav’n and nature sing,
    and heav’n and nature sing,
    and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.
  2. Joy to the earth, the Saviour reigns!
    Let men their songs employ,
    while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    repeat the sounding joy,
    repeat the sounding joy,
    repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
  3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    far as the curse is found,
    far as the curse is found,
    far as, far as the curse is found.
  4. He rules the world with truth and grace,
    and makes the nations prove
    the glories of His righteousness
    and wonders of His love,
    and wonders of His love,
    and wonders, and wonders of His love

When Jesus came everything changed. Yet, in another way, nothing changed. The world and its people are still damaged by the greed, lust and pride of untransformed people. Even God’s people continue to struggle with sin, suffering and unanswered prayers. So, why are we a people of joy? How can joy breathe in the airless atmosphere of ongoing wars, desperate poverty and heinous injustice?

Joy is ours, joy is meaningful, joy is realistic because we now have hope. What kind of hope? As a friend of mine said on Sunday (thanks for the inspiration, TJ), “Where you place your hope is imperative to your experience of joy.” Where is your hope located?

We are the people who have “set our hope on Christ” (Ephesians 1:12), because we used to be those with “no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12). Now we experience the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27). Like the apostle Paul we know that despite the troubles of this life, we have “Christ Jesus our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1).

When our hope is in Christ, and not in anything else — no matter how noble — our joy will be in him, and that joy will be unquenchable because will be ultimately victorious. Nothing can stop his final triumph. Therefore, though trials are still with us, we are a people of joy. A people of joy proclaiming, at this Christmas-tide, joy to the world!

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm