DAY 17: Rejoicing
Scripture: Luke 1:46-49
One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The refrain repeated throughout the song says, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” It is a call to be glad and excited about the coming of God to be with us, but the melody and lyrics also make it clear that everything isn’t necessarily all that exciting. It speaks of an Israel that is mourning and captive, gloomy clouds of night, spirits in need of cheering and nations in need of peace. Yet in the midst of it all, we are repeatedly called to rejoice.
When an angel appeared to Mary and told her she was pregnant, she was living in that Israel. She was a young woman awaiting a Messiah along with the rest of her people. She learns that this awaited Messiah will be her son. She sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49). Nothing has changed yet in the political climate around her. In her personal life, things are definitely about to get harder, being suddenly a pregnant virgin who’s engaged to be married to a man who knows nothing about this baby. But her first instinct is to rejoice.
Despite the upbeat songs, the gifts, the lights, the parties, I know that Christmas isn’t always a happy season for everyone. Maybe you’re missing a loved one. Maybe you’re lonely. Maybe there are relationships in need of repair. Maybe the distressing headlines that seem to appear every hour about the state of our fallen world are weighing on you. Whatever it is, while some people may find it easy to rejoice at this time of year, there are circumstances that might be making it difficult to rejoice.
But Mary’s response to her news reminds us that we can do the same. Our immediate circumstances might not be perfect, but Christmas is a time to remember that the Messiah has come and will come again! He came the first time as a baby who grew up to inaugurate His kingdom. Isaiah 25:8-9 tells us what it will be like after He comes the second time: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”
We rejoice because we remember that the Old Testament promises for a Messiah were fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. We rejoice because we know that He will come again. We rejoice, despite our current circumstances, because we know that they won’t last forever. Christmas reminds us of that.
Looking for more Advent? Find all of the devotions HERE.