“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.’” (Luke 2:8-10 NIV, emphasis mine)
When you imagine the face of God, what does it look like? Sometimes we think of God as one who rules over us with an iron fist, judging us from above with a scowl on His heavenly face. But imagine for a moment what it would feel like to look to Heaven and see God, eyes shining in excitement, smiling at us?
God delights in His creation! Did you know?
As the original artist, designer and creative behind every good and beautiful thing on the earth, God infused all of it with joy. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, sat by a river, swam in the ocean or watched a sunrise or sunset, you’ve probably experienced that joy. It’s hard to look out over an amazing vista and not have a smile on your face. Isn’t it amazing to think that God looks at us that way, too?
The arrival of Jesus here on earth was cause for great celebration. God had been silent for nearly 400 years between the prophet Malachi (in the Old Testament) and John the Baptizer (in the New Testament). And then the time was right for God to come to earth as a baby and live his life to stand in as a sacrifice for ours. There’s no greater joy than a God who loves us enough to come to earth and live alongside us through the good and tough times alike.
Emmanuel, God with us. Joy to the world, indeed.
This week we light the candle of joy. This candle is often referred to as the Shepherd’s Candle and reminds us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) just as the Shepherds did on that first Christmas Eve. The candle’s color, pink, is associated with joy. This week we look ahead to the birth of Jesus with anticipation, expectation and yes, joy!
Here are some ways to live into the joy of the season this week:
- Declare everything you do to be Christmas Cheer! Watching a movie? Christmas Cheer! Decorating cookies? Christmas Cheer! Listening to Christmas music in the car? Christmas Cheer!
- Have an indoor snowball fight with balled up pairs of socks. (Christmas Cheer!)
- Invite a friend for dinner and enjoy time spent together. (Christmas Cheer!)
- Head out to a local park and go for a walk with your eyes wide open to the beauty of God’s creation. (Christmas Cheer!)
- Wear some joy! Put on your ugliest Christmas sweater, some reindeer antlers and that blinking Christmas light necklace you have in a box somewhere. Wear them proudly at school, work or on your next grocery run. (Yep – Christmas Cheer!)