For many folks, Christmas season is not a joyous time. The stress of buying the “right” gift causes frustration. The bickering and arguing over the scheduling nightmare of getting everyone together causes headaches and heartaches. Relationship issues may strain the holiday as old wounds are revisited and reopened. Some are just plain blue because of loved ones lost, there is a hole at the table as well as a hole in their heart. Joy and jubilation may seem to be impossible. Yet, the Christmas story invokes and invites jubilation and joy.
Welcome to our fourth Advent article. We have so far looked the declaration of the angels, the mystery of the incarnation, and the immediate response of adoration. This week we look at jubilation in the worship of the angels and the shepherds.
Luke records, “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”” (Luke 2:13–14, NASB95) The angels worshiped God. I don’t picture this as somber worship but jubilant fist-pumping, hands raised, world-series winning expressions of joy. Likewise, after the shepherds found baby Jesus just as the angels had promised they, “went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:20, NLT) I can’t picture the shepherds walking soberly and reverently like monks on their way to prayers. I see them excitedly recounting their experience and jubilantly praising God as they return to their flocks.
Jubilation is loud, active, and joyful. Psalm 98 declares, “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.” (Psalm 98:4–6, NASB95) Recall the aftermath of game five of this year’s World Series. The Cubs won the last home game of the series and of the year. There was a celebration, flag waving, and singing both inside and outside of Wrigley Field. The combined voices singing “Go, Cubs, Go” cut through the noise of Chicago to be heard a mile away. That’s jubilation!
There’s so much in this world that pulls down our joy. We see the struggle, trouble, conflict, turmoil, and loss all around us. The noise of the news, of social media, and of life can overwhelm our soul. Maybe that’s why the Psalmist encourages us to “break forth,” to break out of the darkness and praise God with everything we have. There’s something about joy that begets more joy. So, sometime during this Christmas season be joyful, be jubilant, be noisy and loud in praise and worship– even if the only person that hears you is God.