Joyful News
Devotional

Joyful News

December 18, 2023

Joyful News

“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

Watching children experience Christmas is fun. It brings a smile to our faces to see the awe on a toddler’s face as they walk through Christmas lights or the excitement of a young child opening Christmas gifts.The joy and excitement of kids at Christmas is almost contagious and somewhat envious. As adults, our perspectives can be tainted by busy schedules, financial strain, family tension, illness or grief that make it hard to experience joy. Although we can’t go back in time to experience the holidays like a kid, the story of the shepherds invites us to embrace the joy of Jesus’ birth this Christmas.

Luke 2:8-20 details the shepherds’ involvement in the Christmas story. Shepherds were ordinary people working hard for a living. In the Old Testament they were regarded well. Taking care of sheep was considered an important and noble occupation. However, as years went by, prejudice against them grew, and in the Roman empire, they were on the bottom end of the social ladder. Yet, it is to this unlikely group that the news of Christ’s birth is declared. In this choice of audience, God shows that his message is for all people. From shepherds to wisemen, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all are welcome in the kingdom of God.

The shepherds are simply doing their job when an angel appears before them with a message of good news that will “cause great joy for all people”. A baby was born, who is the Savior, Messiah, and Lord. To confirm this, they will find a baby in a manger. As the shepherds are still processing the news, the angel is joined by a company more, praising God. After the heavenly host leaves, the shepherds waste no time in exploring what they have been told. In joyful anticipation, they quickly hurry off to find Mary, Joseph, and the baby in a manger.

When the shepherds see that the angels’ message is confirmed, they can’t keep the news to themselves. They excitedly tell everyone they can. The news of Jesus’ birth leads them to rejoice because his arrival transforms their lives. Jesus’ birth didn’t immediately give the shepherds a better social standing. Yet, his birth did change their lives. He brought salvation, forgiveness, and redemption, and that is a reason to rejoice. How has Jesus’ birth impacted you? Like the shepherds, do you look toward Christmas with joyful anticipation? Even as you experience hardships, have you allowed Christ’s birth to fill your heart with joy?

In his great love and mercy, God saw the shepherds and shared with them the life changing news of his son’s arrival. In the same way, God sees us wherever we are this season. He draws us near and invites us to reflect on the humble birth of Jesus. As we do, we are encouraged to embrace the joy and transformation that Christ’s arrival brings. Experiencing the joy of Christmas does not mean that trials will disappear. But it does mean that in the midst of our circumstances, we can rejoice because Jesus’ birth is indeed good news for all people.

As we get closer to Christmas, take a moment to listen to one of the following songs:

  • Christmas Day” by Chris Tomlin and We the Kingdom, beautifully rejoices in Christ and all he has done.
  • Gloria Gloria” by Jess Ray is a lesser known song that acknowledges the pain that this season can bring but concludes with bringing God praise.

No matter how you feel this season, or which song you can relate to more, I pray that God meets you where you are and fills your heart with joy.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, We are grateful that our joy is not dependent on our circumstances but on your gift of love. Fill us with joy today, no matter the situations we are facing. Help us to live joyful lives that witness to your abiding presence. And may we share the good news of the birth of Jesus, with all those we come into contact with. In your son’s name we pray, Amen.

Makalah Scholten
Spiritual Care Coordinator

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