Too many sad or blah faces at church last week?

This is the time of year that we are more likely to go see one of the MANY renditions of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.” But today, I was thinking more about another of Charles Dicken’s literary works, “Great Expectations.” Why oh why would I be thinking about that sad, long story right around Christmas time? If you remember the book, it includes the tale of Miss Haversham, who, after being stood up on her wedding day, sits for many decades in the dust covered wedding reception room, in her mouldering old wedding dress, frozen in time in her despair and anger.  Why did I think of that story today? Well, I was rereading the Christmas story and I came across one of my favorite verses, in Luke 2, “an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord. You will find the babe lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.”  Can you imagine? After seeing and hearing and experiencing what they did? These shepherds had GREAT expectations! and why? The angel said the news was GREAT. It was a message of GREAT JOY- not ok news, everyday news, a possibility of hope, a reprieve of suffering, or a lament of sadness- it was a message straight from the Creator of the Universe, and He lit up the entire sky with this news of great joy. So these men set off to Bethlehem in search of….a metaphor? a possibility of hope? a balm to get by? No, they went in search of a Savior, of a LORD. And this news of great joy was to be for ALL people. And 2000 years later, we who are called Christians- followers of Jesus- believe in this message of GREAT joy, believe we have found the Savior, Christ the Lord. We of all people should have GREAT expectations! So….if we Christians should be the most joyful, hopeful people on earth, why are we so often sad, down and seemingly without hope? Who will want to listen to our Christian witness with our faces dragging the floor? What happened to our great expectations? Sometimes I think, life wears us down and we lose focus. We begin to get bogged down again with the problems of our “sheep”. Maybe we who have been Christians a really long time now ALSO need to hear the angel’s message again and all anew…. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior.”It’s still a message of GREAT joy and hope. There is still a Savior Who loves us and has promised good things that are coming in our future. No matter how difficult this past year has been, God has promised us many good things to come: that He will be with us no matter what we face in the future, that He is preparing a place for us to be with Him forever, that He will wipe every tear from our eyes, that He is going to end all war, suffering, and death, that we will see those we have lost again someday…No matter where we are at in this moment, God is sending us good tidings of GREAT joy and we can take steps forward with GREAT expectations.

God bless and Merry Christmas, love Trisha