Nehemiah 8:9-10; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 1:39-45
“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Luke 1:44
Leapt for joy! When was the last time you or I leapt for joy? Now I’ve been known to do a happy dance – I guess that is close to a leap.
It would seem that joy wouldn’t be hard to find during Advent and Christmas. Look at the kids who are so excited about this season. Many of them will leap for joy on Christmas morning when they see that long awaited gift under the tree. Kids don’t hold back, do they? When they are excited they are just bursting with joy. For some reason if adults were to “leap for joy” they would be seen as crazy or silly.
In the 1951 rendition of the movie Scrooge, Alastair Sim, plays Scrooge himself. After he has met all the ghosts and is awake on Christmas morn he leaps about his room giggling and chuckling and even jumping on the bed. His housekeeper comes in and watches as he babbles on and on about the ghosts and how he has been changed. Giddy with joy, he wishes her a Merry Christmas. She is at first alarmed at his antics, thinking him mad! This changes to happiness as she sees the transformation is real.
Prancing and leaping for joy…why that is for children not adults! Right? Why?
Why did the baby within Elizabeth leap for joy? The baby seemed to know it was in the presence the Holy Child.
The point is this…when we meet the Lord, when we are filled with His presence we are filled with a joy that may very well take us to a joyousness that leads to leaping. Oh but no, some would say. As adults we know enough to contain that kind of joy. We must keep composed and dignified.
For some reason, society has created this imagine of composure as a necessity for appearance reasons. And it is quite clear that Christians have bought into that hook line and sinker. We come into worship and we quietly sit down, teaching our children not to move, and making sure that our hands stay neatly tucked under us. This is how we are to act in worship!
It was mentioned the other day that Christmas Eve is a somber occasion.
I want to go on record as saying that celebrating the birthday of my Lord and Savior is one of the most joyous and exciting times ever!
Okay I don’t want to take this to any kind of extreme but I have to say that I think we may be missing something!
We can all quote the verse from John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” But we forget that Jesus first miracle was at the wedding in Cana, he called the children to him, and raised people from the dead. In all of these situations there must have been great joy! Did he dance with the bride to celebrate? Did he twirl the little children who were full of energy as they gathered around him?
Did he not rejoice as he took the hand of Jairus’ daughter whom he raised from the dead? I have to believe that in all the amazement there was some laughing and leaping for joy! Often Jesus told people he had healed not to say anything but it seems obvious by the way word got around that people were talking. Wouldn’t you or I?
Jesus came into the lives of people and changed them forever. He healed a paralyzed man – who we can be sure leapt for joy often…just because he could. Jesus healed 10 lepers – 9 of them were so excited they didn’t even take time to say thank you! I picture them almost skipping home with excitement.
Joy is our response to meeting Jesus. Dancing, laughing, leaping is our uncontrolled response to being forever transformed by the Love of God. Joy – expressed through laughter, dancing, clapping, praising, singing is instinctual. Babies are the perfect example of this. Before they are taught to be refrained and controlled they respond with natural and intuitive joy. Now we can’t all be jumping about all the time but what if we actually spoke about God’s love and transforming power with joy and excitement? What if when we are singing about Emmanuel or the baby in the manger we actually smiled?
Let me share an ancient legend we read about in our Advent Bible Study on Wednesday night.
One day, God called the angels of heaven together for a special choir rehearsal. He told them he had a special song he wanted them to learn..a song they would sing at a very special occasion. The angels went to work on it. They rehearsed long and hard…with great focus and intensity. In fact, some of the angels grumbled a bit…but God insisted on a very high standard for his choir.
As time passed, the choir improved in tone, in rhythm, and in quality. Finally God announced that they were ready…but then he shocked them a bit. He told them that they would sing the song only once…and only on one night. There would be just one performance of this great song they had worked on so diligently. Again, some of the angels grumbled.
The song was so extraordinarily beautiful and they had it down pat now…surely, they could sing it many, many times. God only smiled and told them that when the time came, they would understand.
Then one night, God called them together. He gathered them above a field just outside of Bethlehem. “It’s time,” God said to them..and the angels sang their song. O my, did they sing it! “Glory to God in the highest…and on earth peace and good will toward all…” And as the angels sang, they knew there would never be another night like this one.
When the angels returned to heaven, God reminded them that they would not formally sing that song again as an angelic choir, but if they wanted to, they could hum the song occasionally as individuals. One angel was bold enough to step forward and ask God why. Why could they not sing that majestic anthem again? They did it so well. It felt so right. Why couldn’t they sing that great song anymore? “Because,” God explained, “my son has been born…and now earth must do the singing!”
Our response like the angels should be to joyfully sing about God’s Son coming to earth. God needs us, who know the joy of salvation, to carry on the singing…carry on the joyful news!
Go ahead jump for joy now and then or even just put a little skip in your step as you go about your daily life. That joy will be noticed by others and it may even be contagious! People may inquire about your joy and where it comes from. Just think how that might open the door to share your belief, your excitement, your joy about Jesus Christ.
Looking for joy? This Advent I hope you find it in the presence of Jesus. When you do, when you really begin to be overcome with that joy…don’t hold back…leap for joy…or at least dance, smile, clap and let your inner child explode with excitement of the Savior’s birth!!