Comfort & Joy

“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.” Luke 2:10-12

There is a scene is the movie The American President where President Andrew Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas) is talking to Lewis Rothschild, his Assistant for Domestic Policy (played by Michael J. Fox) about his falling approval ratings. As challenger Senator Rumsfeld had climbed in the polls, Shepherd has begun to question his own chances of re-election. Encouraging the President, Rothschild says, “"People want leadership, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.”

Couldn’t these words apply today? Doesn’t it seem that people are “thirsty for leadership”? Last week in the Washington Post, former defense secretary Robert Gates argued that candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are running successful campaigns by “giving voice to the anger.” (If you’re feeling particularly political today, you can read the entire article here.)

And there is plenty to be angry about in our world. Terror abroad and at home. Broken relationships. Economic disparity. Ailing health of loved ones. Racial tensions.

These same problems faced those present at the first Christmas:

Terror abroad and at home…the Roman government wasn’t known for being peaceful.
Broken relationships....it doesn’t get much more complicated than “virgin birth.”
Economic disparity…the priests and Pharisees had a pretty penny saved up, and the temple was a frequent site for markets.
Ailing health of loved ones…Death is a definitive obstacle that every generation must cope with.
Racial tensions…Throughout history, Jews were persecuted, driven from their lands, and enslaved for generations.

The problem with anger is that while it may produce temporary power, it consumes the fuel on which it feeds. It is a mirage made of sand that masks fear and pain, but it can never truly heal the brokenness. Christmas is a reminder that anger isn’t worth it. The story of Christmas tells us that even in the midst of so much turmoil, God keeps his promises. In the middle of so much pain and chaos, God shows up. God quenches that thirst for leadership not with an angry and powerful king, but with a baby born in a stable.

 

Christmas gives us permission to stop being angry and instead be filled with Joy.
Joy that doesn’t fear.
Joy that overcomes heartbreak.
Joy that is thankful for all that we have.
Joy that heals loss.
Joy despite inequality.

This advent, I’ve enjoyed this song as a reminder of the emotions of the season. May its lyrics remind you that Christmas brings good tidings of great joy each and every day.

Zach Herzog


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