And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
On Friday morning, December 9, I joined with our ECC parents in watching with joy as our Early Childhood Center PK2, PK3, PK4, and K students proclaimed the Christmas message in song. The students were dressed in their Christmas best and animated in song and motions. Families were thrilled as the children sang their hearts out. The enthusiasm and joy in the room was palpable and contagious. For that brief moment, the adults experienced a moment’s rest from the business and pressures of the life we live here on earth.
Joy. It is the one thing that everyone is searching for and we will give almost anything to experience. And yet, in this world filled with labor, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, a world that C.S. Lewis called “the valley of tears,” we are often overcome and overwhelmed with activities which for us, here and now, are frivolous in comparison to the Kingdom of Heaven (Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, 1964).
Perhaps the shepherds all those years ago were in a similar state. Going about life, following the same routine. Suddenly, the angel of the Lord appeared to them and proclaimed good news of great joy for all the people. The Angel’s message: joy is the serious business of heaven.
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we celebrate the Shepherds Candle or the candle of Joy. The gift of Jesus Christ is heavenly joy in our lives, a joy that is not linked to our external circumstances or fazed by our external conditions. As Christ stated in John 10:10, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest.” While happiness tends to be linked to external circumstances, joy springs deep from within, and isn’t fazed by external conditions. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, puts it this way:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This Christmas season have you experienced the presence of our Lord? Do you know the joy that comes from walking with Jesus Christ?
Joy is a state of being. We are no longer alone: God is with us. Joy gives us the quiet assurance that everything is going to be alright; that there is a sovereign God who loves us and who controls all the details of our lives. God loves us deeply, demonstrated by the gift of His only Son, and as such, we can trust Him and receive joy through all our circumstances. We are called to not be anxious about anything, for God is with us and through Christ, we can trade all of our needs, worries, and fears for the peace of God. This is good news of great joy for all the people! Joy is the serious business of heaven.
This Christmas season, may you and your family experience the great joy we have in Christ. The faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees at Delaware County Christian School wish you a joyous Christmas season and a blessed New Year!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Head of School