Joy Can Be Difficult Work

Under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Joy to the World! Joy is not pie-in-the-sky. What is joy? Feeling? Ability? Mind-set? Joy is difficult work. Joy takes planning and concentration. In short, joy does not just happen. Or if it does just happen it doesn’t seem to last. We have to pray for joy. Sometimes joy takes being reminded of certain truths that outweigh today’s headache and pain. Joy is about living in reality. Joy comes when we see things as they really are.

What is reality? Who is joy? Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, came into the world and dwelt among men taking on Himself the sins of the whole world that we might have life in Him.

“God is with us! Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves, for God is with us.” (Is 8:9)

The Son of God was conceived in the womb of Mary and this baby is fully God and fully man. God promised that light would shine forth, that a Virgin would conceive and give birth to the Promise. A thousand years past as we waited to see what God had in mind. This promise was fulfilled when God the Word, the Only Begotten Son before all the ages, deigned to be born in Bethlehem and come into the world to live. A human baby fully Divine, the light and hope for all who embrace Him. Our God is with us. Jesus’ birth joined God to us in a way that can never have been imagined God actually became man. He has united his people to Himself in a way that cannot be undone.

This is the time of great anticipation and preparation. It is a time when God offers to us the joyful opportunity to be renewed. Our Lord will be born anew within us and we are invited to follow the star with the Wise men, to offer shelter to the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child, to take our place with shepherds and the animals, and to partake of His mystical supper. We pray that he is born in our hearts as in that cave in Bethlehem.

“Today all creatures shall be filled with joy; for Christ has been born of the Virgin.”



Filed under Orthodox Christianity

2 responses to “Joy Can Be Difficult Work

  1. Natalia Nauman

    It’s interesting to me that we need to work for joy. I have recently read a book – The 80/20 Principle – and it describes how to increase happiness in our lives. Just like in finances and other areas, we need to find what gives us happiness, and concentrate more time in that area.

    I didn’t know we can pray for joy. I think I should do that today.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts.


  2. Joy as work – I love that. I used to beat myself up over my lack of “Christian joy.” For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to conjure up such a feeling in my soul. You’re so right, it isn’t, “What is joy?” but rather, “Who is Joy?” The obedient emptying of myself this season by way of following the star, providing shelter for Mary and Jesus, taking my place with the animals, receiving the Eucharist is what will allow Christ/Joy to fill me. Thank you Father James for this much needed reminder.

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