Unforced Joy



“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” –Luke 2:10


Joy is a word that gets plastered just about everywhere at this time of year. It scrolls across television ads, rests in store windows, and hangs from the branches of our Christmas trees. Often, it is a heavy word, carrying with it the obligation of happiness even if we don’t feel it.

Yesterday, I wasn’t happy. I had the kind of day that ended with me sitting on my couch in a ball of tears. But I don’t think that is in conflict with the word joy the way it sits in the biblical story of Christmas.

In the story of Christ’s birth is not imposed upon people as a “should,” but imbedded in the announcement of the angels. The world is not joyful; it is weary and broken and hurting. Which is exactly why the news of a savior is entrenched with joy. At last, at last there is hope.

I wonder if the joy of Christmas is more real to us in our tears than it often is in our laughter.


Good and gracious Savior, redeem the word joy from the obligations we have placed upon it. Help us to feel not a shallow sense of happiness but a deep understanding of hope. When we hit our low points this month, sit with us in that space, and remind us that the world will not always be this way. Amen.


O Holy Night - David Crowder Band

“A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”


Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.