Joy, Pure Joy

There were only two wise men, and they were twins. Traveling afar meant walking from the back church pew down to the front. That’s pretty good since these wise men are only in the first grade. Of course, they have traveled farther. Another forty-feet led straight to the bathroom. Nevertheless, even with their traveling freedom, the wise men were not joyful.

Ahhh…the children’s Christmas play practice is in full swing. The first night of practice went well. “Joseph,” a redheaded second-grader, proudly escorted his older and much taller “Mary.” Giggles trickled through the room, mine included. I’m not sure Mary likes her prearranged marriage with little Zachaeus but she’s a good sport. I told my son (a.k.a. Zach, Zachaeus, Joseph) he could wear boots. He firmly responded, “I’m plenty tall enough, thank you very much.” At least “Joseph” is confident.

The shepherds were small and quiet. The angel did not terrify them. It was hearing instructions to walk the aisles and shout, “Jesus is born! Jesus is born!” They practiced sharing the good news. One whispered it. One mouthed the words and the other used mental telepathy.

It was during the five-minute break when the wise men expressed their concerns to the director.

We want to tell people that Jesus is born,” they cried. Apparently, delivering gifts to the Christ child was not enough.

The shy shepherds quickly agreed to exchange places with the wise men. Excited about the beautiful gifts they will silently offer Jesus.

After the break, the children practiced their new parts. The twin wise men gleefully became shepherds. They raised their eyebrows with anticipation and repeatedly asked,

“When can we say it?”

“Is it time to go to tell the people?”

Finally, the time arrived when the two newly ordained shepherds skipped down the aisles of the church. They loudly proclaimed,

“Jesus is born! Jesus is born! Jesus is born!”

Their toothy grins brought smiles, even to the tired parents sitting in the back. They exuded joy, pure joy.

How about you? Whom do you identify with?

Mary? She had surprises in her life. Some were wonderful. Some were disappointing, some sad. Ultimately, she trusted God with the details Do you have faith God is in control, even when you don’t comprehend everything?

Joseph? He had surprises too. He wrestled with decisions. He loved God and he loved Mary. Even when he didn’t understand, he stayed by Mary’s side. He trusted and obeyed God. Are you obedient to God, even when it’s difficult?

Perhaps you’re similar to the wise men. You search for Jesus daily, seeking to worship Him. You joyfully give the gifts you have to offer. Standing firm in your beliefs, you defend Christ.

Or are you like a poor, quiet shepherd? Do you look at the gifts of others and wish you had more to offer?  The angels spoke first to the humble in spirit. The shepherds gave their time. They left their work to offer the Lord their adoration. Experiencing God’s love, they presented their service. They spread the good news to others. Not all may have shouted it, but they sure did share it. They were authentic and people were amazed at what they heard.

Let’s be obedient like Mary and Joseph, trusting God in all things. Like the kings, let’s freely give and be bold for Christ. But let’s leave our crowns at the manger and run barefoot through the hills like the shepherds. Eagerly sharing how our lives changed after meeting Jesus. Spread joy, pure joy.