I woke up one morning this Advent season with a song bursting from my heart.
“Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing….”
I’ve been ruminating on the words of this song. Although not a new song, I feel as though I have been caught up in its joy, its proclamation, and its hope this season. The lyrics capture so many of the truths of our faith in so few words.
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
My mind quickly raced to the story in Luke 2, where the angel gives good news of great joy to a bunch of no name, menial workers out in the field – the shepherds – as they kept watch over their flocks at night.
Luke 2:10-11 says, “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.”
Why the shepherds were the first to hear this great news is a mystery.
It would have made more sense if the priests were the first people to hear this good news of the birth of the Messiah. What great encouragement it is for us to read that this good news, meant for all, was shared with the shepherds first — perhaps so that they would know that they were included in the all and that we are too.
This Christmas, I am reminded that I am like the shepherds — a commoner, a no namer, minding my own business.
In this world of more than a billion people, somehow, like the shepherds who got to hear the good news of great joy that will be for all people, I heard it too. Me, a wife, a mom, a homemaker, a wannabe writer – with no significant title or accolades, keeping watch over things that are quite insignificant by the world’s standards – yet, I feel as though I have been let in on the secret of heaven.
While the rest of the world slept, as the shepherds faithfully kept watch during the night, doing the mundane tasks that they always did, the shepherds witnessed something amazing, something magnificent, something glorious. Nothing hints that the shepherds were anticipating angels showing up. No….they were doing their everyday tasks, but for whatever reason, God decided to reveal His great tidings to them.
What great rejoicing and good news to know that God’s glory comes and visits us when we’re not expecting it. What a great reminder that the good news of great rejoicing is available even in most mundane places in our lives.
Could it be that in a place when we are keeping watch – as we’re caring for our crying babies, watching over a loved one in the hospital, or faithfully working to keep food on the table – that the glory of the Lord will be shown to us? What mystery, what beauty, what glory is to be revealed in the most unsuspected places in our lives. What a reminder that the good news of great joy that will be for all the people is for commoners like you and me.
Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!
Let earth, receive her King….
Our King came in the most unexpected way. Born in a stable, wrapped in a cloth, and lying in a manger, who would have believed that a King would come in such a form? No one would have believed, except perhaps the shepherds. How uncomfortable would it have been for the shepherds if they had to visit Jesus in the palace? They wouldn’t have known what to do. But a stable, they knew. They knew how to receive a King lying in a manger.
What does it look like to receive our King?
Do you ever feel as though you don’t know how to receive Jesus, the King? Maybe there is a certain protocol to follow? Perhaps, there are rituals to be done? Perhaps the King is only for certain types of people? If anything, the birth story of Jesus tells us that to receive our King requires nothing more than to go to Him.
It said, the shepherds, went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (v.16). I can’t help but wonder, “What did the shepherds do with the sheep?” We don’t know, but as they heard the great news, they knew they had to respond. And they did with a great haste.
No waiting around until the next day….
They received the King with haste. They received the King with joy. Perhaps we lose out on what it means to receive the King because we think there is a certain way to do it. We think about showing up with clean clothes, and gifts. If anything, the shepherds show us that receiving Jesus the King requires nothing more than a heart in haste ready to meet the King. For upon receiving the King, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
Do you hear the heavens rejoicing?
Do you hear the words, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he is pleased!”
Don’t wait until tomorrow to revel in who Jesus is. Make haste today to receive the King!
Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!Let Earth receive her King!