Transcendent Joy In a Cold Tragic Christmas

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Transcendent Joy

When last I posted I was reflecting on the belak midwinter here on the island. As As I prepared my comments on “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room,” picking up on the theme of “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” it was 12 to 24‚º outside and the bleakness extended beyond the weather

On the island Jordan Griffin’s snowboarding accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

These events follow other recent tragedies on our island: Dana Mullan died while resting on a couch watching a movie with her kids. Darlene Pohl, slumped over and died just moments before landing in Seattle on a commercial flight. Anthony Richardson and others have died unexpectedly.

The economic slump has hit the island hard too. Rosario, the largest resort on Orcas, closed in October, leaving 200+ people out of work. Real estate and construction have slumped badly hitting our working population & Wall Street has reduced the portfolio of many retirees who call Orcas home.

When you live on a small island as we do, you feel these events very personally. We’re all connected and therefore all affected.

So when I announce joy to the world this Christmas Season, I am announcing joy to the world of Orcas Island, which at that moment is reeling from losses.What do you say in such a moment that does not trivialize our losses, but rather hits them head on?

What is this transcendent Christmas Joy?

1) Christmas joy transcends circumstances

Joy transcends circumstances ~ Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is not.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “For happiness one needs security,
But joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.”

Joy can be made richer by sorrow Kahlil Gibran observed this: “joy and sorrow are inseparable. . .together they come; and when one sits alone with you . . remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Christmas is God’s wake-up call: JOY has arrived & it is the kind of joy that can transcends SORROW

Joy comes from within, its source is internal not external ~ it is spiritual not circumstantial. This joy is like a lake fed by underground sprints. This joy is found only one place ~ in the one who offers springs of living water, the one who offers the bread of life ~ This joy is only found in Jesus Christ.

2) Christmas joy is a person: Jesus Christ

The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

We are joyful because God has heard our cry. Isaiah prophesied: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

Christmas reminds us that god hears the cries of his people. Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means God With Us. Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us.

God has heard our cry & the cries of the whole world. The angels signaled the universal nature of God’s good news, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

George W. Truett reminds us that Christ was born in the first century, yet he belongs to all centuries. “He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.”

Best of all, in Jesus, God has entered our mess. He was born in a stable ~came as a baby ~ lived the human life ~ Experienced our joys and sorrows.

He delivered his good news HIMSELF through his son Jesus. He did not fly to earth on a corporate jet. Did not demand a place in a royal palace¢â‚¬¦He took his place with the down trodden ~ He was born in a simple, rugged stable surrounded by the domestic animals of the working poor.

He then went to the streets to love drunkards ~lepers ~ the blind ~
A woman caught in the act of adultery; he went to a man trapped in his love 0f money.

He came to announce in the words of the old gospel song, “Come Ye Disconsolate ~ Where ere Ye Languish¢â‚¬¦Earth Has No Sorrow That Heaven Cannot Heal!”

In Jesus death on the cross God broke the cycle of sin and began to restore all that unraveled in the fall and so the Christmas carol proclaims, “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.”

3) Christmas joy is costly joy

He came to earth because he loves us, “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, wonders, of His love.

Such Love deserves a loving response. “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

Christmas Joy Is available ONLY to those who prepare him room¢â‚¬¦In the first century here was no room in the inn and there was no room in many hearts¢â‚¬¦ Herod, the self-righteous Pharisees wanted nothing to do with this Jesus. As John said, “The light came into the world ~ men loved darkness rather than light.”

Christmas joy cost Jesus his life and if we want Christmas Joy~ it will cost us our lives as well. If Jesus Christ marks the central transition in history why would we expect he would occupy anything other then the central transitional point in our personal life.

So Karl Barth reminds us, “Here is the good news of Christmas. He who was born on Christmas Day and stands by you, without thinking of himself for one moment. He does not demand anything from you; he demands you.

As the Hymn the bleak midwinter asks:

“What can I give him, Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him? I’ll give him My Heart.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in January 27, 2009 by | No Comments »

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