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I’m sitting here at my desk, looking out of the window in front of me. I see palm trees swaying under the heat of the African sun, and the afternoon breeze comes dancing in and out…in and out.

There is no snow…no fires burning in the fireplace…no mittens or hats, puffy coats or boots.

The scene outside my window looks nothing like my American traditional Christmases.

In South Africa, Christmas comes in the summertime…and, while this is our third Christmas in Africa, I find that the rhythms of both my mental and body clocks have not yet completely learned to walk in sync with the world I live in. It is coming…but slowly.

And so, I light my Christmas-y scented candle, turn on the tree lights, play some Christmas music, and open up my Bible. I turn to the familiar Christmas story.


Can you feel it yet? Is the anticipation of Christmas growing inside of you? As you consider the magnitude of the Christmas story, are you finding peace in the preparation? Has Christ’s coming, his Advent, sparked a new kind of expectation?

This is week three of Advent…and I am walking in the joy of this season…not-so-much the decorations and seasonal accoutrements that are often the centerpieces of my attention…but in the joy of who Jesus is…and the peace he brings…

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth, and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With th’ angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King

- Felix Mendelssohn -

Angels filled the sky.

Imagine that sight.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14

A declaration of great news…a heart-stopping announcement…a moment of awe.

And the shepherds hurried to see this great thing that had happened.

The Messiah had come.

The promise of peace had come.

But not the kind of peace that was expected or fully appreciated at the time.

This was peace and reconciliation between God and man.

This was monumental.

Bigger and more meaningful than “world peace” and everybody holding hands, playing nice on the playground of life.

Jesus had come to reconcile the world to God…truly joyful…hopeful…glorious.

Take a moment to let it all sink in…angels in the sky…peace on earth…a baby…fresh and new…the embodiment of hope…the answer to every prayer…joy to the world!

“Joyful all ye nations rise!”

This peace that had come…this peace that would rest upon those whose hearts were open…had come.

Joy is defined as “a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.”

Christ’s birth is joy personified. He is the definition of joy, and his coming is the ongoing source of our joy…our peace.

In the midst of pain and suffering…his joy sustains us.

In times of uncertainty and confusion…his joy gives clarity of focus.

As the world collapses, and we struggle to see the next step forward…his joy is the spark of light and hope that will lead and guide us through.

The significance of his arrival…the proclamation of the angels…brings me great joy.

Regardless of where I am, his joy is right here with me. In the snow or the southern hemisphere heat, Jesus is here. God with us.

He is the Good News.

He is the Reason for Hope.

He is the Messiah.

He is the Joy.

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