If you have been a church-goer for a long time (or at least a frequent watcher of “A Charlie Brown’s Christmas”), you might recognize the title of our Advent series, “good news of great joy,” as being a phrase from the angel’s announcement to the shepherds, “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The angel tells them that this good news is that this very day a Savior was born for the people of Israel in the city of David, who is the Messiah, the Lord. Why would this good news come with great joy? Only if this child would one day be able to save the people from what brings great sorrow, if they are not rescued from it. Did Jesus the Messiah bring great joy to this world? We believe he did, but as a “down payment” on the full joy to come.
This world is still full of sorrow and sadness. We don’t have to go beyond a short list of things that grieve us to prove the point: family conflict, sickness, wars, natural disasters and death. And even the season we celebrate Christ’s birth can be a time of sadness for many. And for those for whom Christmas isn’t a particularly sad season would not say it is a time of “great joy” for them. In this Advent series, we will see how even in the midst of sorrows, we can experience true joy as a result of Christ’s first Advent (which means “coming”), in light of the certainty of the fullness of joy, when he will remove ALL causes of sadness, when he comes again, in his second Advent.