Great Joy Has Come

December 20, 2002
by Kirsti Sipila

Psalm 78:5-7 – He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. (NRSV)

Deuteronomy 5:33 – You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess. (NRSV)

My grandmother was from a God-fearing family of parents and children, nurtured in the admonition of the Lord. I was the first grandchild for my grandmother, visiting her often. She continued to carry on the faith, and would take me to church with her. I felt safe in her company, walking up the steep stairs to the large door of the building with a cross. It did not feel scary with my hand in hers. Something important was happening to me.

I especially remember the walk in the crisp winter weather to the Christmas service. Some folks went by on a horse-drawn sleigh. The church was full of people. Christmas hymns, hundreds of years old, were sung devoutly by the congregation. Fascinated by the light of the candles shining into the darkness, I sang my first hymn. My grandmother was my childhood mentor, and I was a willing apprentice.

Now that I am a great-grandmother, in the line of generations, last Christmas was very special, as my spunky great-grandson Daniel visited. It brought laughter when great-uncle had a teddy bear for each little one, but each one reached for the candy cane in the bag instead. We drove to church in three cars, Daniel with his grandmother. Homes decorated with Christmas lights caused Daniel to pour out pure enjoyment. In church, he followed others to the children's time, as if he had always been there, and sat on the floor listening to the story that the pastor told about Jesus. Daniel's face was lit with joy and wonder. It was a Christmas to remember.

That night long ago, God came to earth, touching and changing lives. He still comes each time an event in our lives causes us to look at the glory of God. We might be terrified at first, and feel out of place. But the angel's message is, "Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV)

We can cling to God's promises in today's Scriptures, that it will go well with those who love him, those who obey the commandments given to their fathers. It will also go well with those who make known to their children the ordinances of God and those who arise and declare them to their children, even the children which should be born.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you came to shepherds in the night. You come to us with the same good news. Help us not to be afraid. Help us to tell the good news made known to us, faithfully glorifying your holy name from one generation to another. Amen.

About the author:

Kirsti Sipila <kirstiksipila@hotmail.com>
Brantford, Ontario, Canada

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