A Great Joy!

by Rev. William Weedon

Have you ever noticed how the theme of joy trumpets through the Church’s hymns at Christmas? “Joy to the World,” “O Rejoice, Ye Christians, Loudly,” “Rejoice, Rejoice This Happy Morn,” “All My Heart Again Rejoices.” And those are just the opening lines of a few hymns! Whence this Christmas joy?

Read Luke 2:1–7 and answer the following:

Who was the Roman emperor when our Lord was born?

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What brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem in time for the Child’s birth?

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When Mary gave birth to Christ, what did she wrap Him in and where did she place Him?

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Why were they there?

Discuss (or think about): Do we ever “crowd” the Lord out of the inn of our souls? In what ways can we ready ourselves to welcome Him during these holy days?

Read Luke 2:8–14. To whom was the good news of the Savior’s birth first announced? What did the angel say to them?

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Who is this good news for? What is the Good News in a nutshell? (See especially v. 11.)

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What were the signs for them to find the Child? Where may we find that Child today?

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What did the angel hosts sing that night? How is that song still used regularly in the Church?

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Read Luke 2:15–20. What did the shepherds do when they heard the good news? Does the Good News still bring people to the places where they find their Savior? What are those places?

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What did the shepherds do when they arrived?

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What did Mary do with everything she heard, and how is that an example for us? What did the shepherds continue doing when they went home? How do we do the same in the hymns and liturgy of the Church?

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Discuss: What can we learn from this account about sharing the Good News? About glorifying and praising God?

Just as the shepherds were told the good news about the Savior in a personal way (to you is born a Savior), and where they could find the Child, and this resulted in their witnessing and glorifying and praising God, so during the holy days of Christmas we have a wonderful opportunity to rejoice in the Gospel anew for ourselves, and to invite friends and neighbors to join us in adoration at the manger of the Divine Service, where the One who long ago came to us in Bethlehem comes to us still in the very body and blood He received from blessed Mary and offered up on the cross. How can we not be singing:

O rejoice, ye Christians, loudly,
For our joy has now begun;
Wondrous things our God has done.
Tell abroad His goodness proudly,
Who our race has honored thus,
That He deigns to dwell with us.
Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness,
Christ has done away with sadness!
Hence, all sorrow and repining,
For the Sun of Grace is shining!
(LSB 897:1)

About the Author: Rev. William Weedon is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill.

The Lutheran Witness — Providing Missouri Synod laypeople with stories and information that
complement congregational life, foster personal growth in faith, and help interpret the
contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.

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