Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
Perhaps like me, you’ve sung this hymn for years – in church, at home with your family, gathered with friends and neighbors. Perhaps you’ve sung it to yourself – in your car, on a walk, or quietly in the dark of night.
Joy to the world!
While we may not feel joyful this year – as the pandemic of disease continues to bring sickness and death, when fear and mistrust – a darkness – threatens to overcome the light – we, as followers of Jesus Christ must bear joy to this aching world. We must shine light into the darkness. Joy to the world!
Like much in our lives, proclaiming joy is difficult work – also good and essential work – especially now. Though we mourn that which is lost in our lives, our families, and our communities – Joy to the world!
While we strive to pull up the twisted and thorny vines of hatred and bigotry and anger – Joy to the world!
Through streaming tears and gritted teeth – Joy to the world! – because God is breaking into our lives and into this world anew.
While this is a strange year, the ministry He gives us remains the same. We will prepare him room in our hearts by taking on the ministry Jesus demands of us: feed those who are hungry; welcome the stranger; clothe those who are naked; heal those who are sick; visit the prisoner. Love God. Love your neighbor. Sing joy into this old world. Prepare him room.
St. Luke writes of the first Christmas, “[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” There, in the simplest bed, in the cool of the night, in a trough, in bands of cloth, lies the One for whom noroom was made. And yet strangely, there lies the One whom not even the universe can contain.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. In your hearts, in your homes, in your lives, prepare him room.
God love you; God bless you; and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.