The Hymn Joyful Joyful we adore thee has a powerful message for us each day.
The words for us are:
Joyful, joyful we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before You,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
This is not a Christmas Carol, but it is a Christmas message.
Christmas is fulfilled in the joy of the birth of Jesus. We are told that the babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The mother and father rejoiced in the coming of their son. The people rejoiced in the coming of their Lord and Savior.
This coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday. It is the Sunday we focus on our joy in the coming of the savior.
We are instructed to rejoice in the Lord always. Philippians 4:4 says: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."
This is not just a happy feeling. It is not even a gut wrenching burst of laughter. It is not the mere expression of merriment or gladness.
This is an eternal joy. This is an immortal gladness. This is the joy that is offered us each moment of each day. This is the joy that fills our lives with praise and thanksgiving regardless of what we face or what we confront in life.
John 16 reminds us of what Jesus told His disciples as he faced and witnessed to His death and resurrection: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
This is the message of the gospel. This is the true joy of Christmas. Our joy is founded on Jesus Christ alone and no one will take away our joy.
We cannot avoid dark days. The disciples endured deep pain and grief in the death of Jesus their Lord. Still, that sadness and sorrow turned to Joy in the event of the resurrection from the dead.
Still further, we read in the book of Jude: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
We are presented to God in great joy. We therefore know, that what is presented to us in great joy is having God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit in us. The Joy of the coming of Christ as a babe in a manger in Bethlehem. The Joy of Jesus in us. And, the joy that will be realized in totality in the return of Christ in the clouds. This is a joy of incredible magnitude.
So, we are certain that we can hold on to these words at Christmas and all year round: Joyful, Joyful we Adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love!!!
May the joy of the Lord be in you this blessed Advent season.