Talk of joy will seem inappropriate to many this Christmas. Death has brought us a thick cloud of sorrow. But a teenage mother, Mary, helps us claim joy in the face of death. She calls to us, "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior...." (Luke 1.47)
Joy is not the absence of sorrow or death. Joy is the awareness that sorrow and death will not have the last word. Joy acknowledges the shock and blood and loss of Friday last. And, of Jesus' Friday past. But joy, waits and believes and trusts that even of this garbage God will make gold! We will walk out of this tomb. Thanks be to God.
Joy knows that sometimes we have to endure hell, but heaven wins! Joy sings, "Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal." Happy can't compare to joy. Joy gives a certainty that God understands even if I don't. Joy is knowing God.
Christmas joy is always appropriate. It frees us. We don't have to make ourselves happy or get depressed when we fail. Joy is a gift from beyond us, for us and for the world. We are its bearers. Share it! Joy is how we trust; "He will never leave us or forsake us." (Deuteronomy 31.6) The smiles the world produces are fleeting and fragile, so "rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice." (Philippians 4.4)