Saturday, December 11, 2010

GOOD news...GREAT joy!

Take a walk with me back in history.  Leave behind the computers, central heat and air, Toyotas and asphalt.  For a few minutes, allow yourself to forget about corporate America and the Industrial Revolution.  Allow the language of history to take you back to a place most people have never been, a place we're only afforded a view of because of the pen of some faithful followers of our Savior.  Walk across the dusty road, allow your eyes to adjust as you cross into the dark, fertile field and duck your head beneath the branches of the small tree as you become a spectator of redemptive history.

...And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Ah, yes.  "The Christmas story," you say.  But, did you read it?  Did you contemplate each word?  Visualize each scene?  Did you give your heart a chance to feel the story you've had memorized since childhood?  If not, I invite you to read it again.  See it.  Feel it.  Let it sink in.
That's what I did this morning.  I opened my Bible and decided that I wouldn't skim over the story I've taught a hundred times.  I decided that I was just hungry enough for the Bread of Life, just thirsty enough for the Living Water that I would ask that God speak to me- even in a story I've committed to memory.  And, He did!  Look closely with me at the wording of the angel of God:

"Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD news that will cause GREAT joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Do you see it?  Nestled there in the midst of the most told story in history lie two of the most absurd adjectives I've ever seen.  Good news.  Great joy.  Before I had the chance to marvel at the wonder of the infallible Word of God, I carried on a mental argument with Luke.  Surely he mixed it up, right?  Surely he meant to say, "Great news.  Good joy."  My faith is just strong enough that my argument quickly gave way to a very precious and personal assessment of the language of God.  
That news the angel spoke of?  That was the news of the Messiah.  All of heaven was bending down to get a glimpse of the Christ-child in the feeding trough.  The angel of God had just finished a search for someone- anyone who would believe and join the celebration.  Somewhere nearby, an infant was crying out against the cool air and all the evil in the world was shrinking back in horror.  The antagonist collapsed in defeat as Joseph held the infant to his chest, trying to contain the rush of emotions that had been given birth along with the child he would raise.  Yes, the news that angel delivered would alter the eternity of the human race, giving sight to the blind and hope to the hopeless.  And it was good. 
Do you hear me?  The news was GOOD.
But the joy?  Read it again...

"Do not be afraid.  I bring you GOOD news that will cause GREAT joy for all the people."

I was moved to tears at the thought of it.  From Heaven's perspective, the birth of my Savior was good.  But the joy...-the joy was supposed to be GREAT.  Our Father sent a gift, His son to the humanity he'd been wooing since the dawn of creation, and it was a priceless gift indeed.  And on that night, if an All-Powerful God could kneel, I believe He did.  I believe he watched us closely with the anticipation of a Daddy who'd spent too much on a Christmas present for his child.  I believe He watched our faces, looking for that moment when we recognized the wonder of the gift and exclaimed our thanksgiving for the gift we'd needed so desperately.  He watched and waited, wanting nothing more than to see our "GREAT joy" for His "GOOD news."

Good News.  Great Joy.

Don't miss it, my friends.  I dare you to peel through the pages of your Bible until you find it.  It might not be tucked in the same verses that held my "GREAT joy,"  but it is there.  Don't let this Christmas pass you by without coming close enough to smell the stable, close enough to hear the rustling of the hay, close enough to see the wonder on the faces of the spectators of Redemption.  Fight for it.  Strive for it.  Reach for it.  And, take people with you.

Look again at the story you know so well.  That good news that promised great joy had a profound effect on those shepherds.  THEY DROPPED EVERYTHING.  They left their livelihood in those fields.  They walked off their jobs and went chasing the Messiah.  And why?  What motivated them?  Read it for yourself. What brought the shepherds from a silent, terror-filled stupor to a foot race to the Christ-Child?  I contend that the "GREAT joy" moved those men in that field.  I think it did then, and I think it still does.

"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened."

May our "Great joy" motivate every tribe, tongue and nation to hurry to the Messiah!

The news is good.
The joy is great!


  1. WOW! Sue this is so thought provoking and heart stirring. I am so proud of you and of your journey. Thank you for bringing the Christmas to to life again and causing us to pause, I mean STOP, and think about it. I love you sweet one!

    Pastor Laura

  2. Now, those are PRECIOUS words from a PRECIOUS friend! Thank you so much for sharing joy with us every chance you get! YOU are a beautiful part of this journey you're so proud of!


  3. Awesome. Thanks for a new perspective on something that deserves more of my attention than just reading it to the babies before bed.

    Love you.

  4. I love you, too! Christmas has always been my favorite, but this year is especially precious to my heart for some reason!

  5. I love your way with words; thanks for taking the time to share with us!

  6. Good stuff :) The Christmas story, I've payed extra close attention to this year. Great breakdown.

  7. Sue Frances... your heart is beautiful! I so miss studying GODs word with you.. thanks for sharing. My eternal friend.. you never cease to amaze me!


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