“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant.”
“Hark the herald angels sing – joyful all ye nations rise.”
“On Christmas night all Christians sing – news of great joy, news of great mirth.”
“While humble shepherds watched their flocks – ‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring, to you and humankind.’”
“See! in yonder manger low – Say, ye holy shepherds say, what your joyful news today.”
Have you ever noticed how often the words “joy” or “joyful” show up in Christmas carols? A lot, it seems. At our December HerSpace gathering our small groups were challenged to come up with as many Christmas carols that speak of joy as they could. We named 21 - and I’m sure we missed others!
St Gertrude (1256-1302) believed the cultivation of joy to be a spiritual practice, one we are invited to engage with intentionality. In her spiritual exercises she asks those journeying through them to spend time contemplating or meditating on joy. Isn’t that wonderful?! ‘Jubilus ’is the word Gertrude uses, jubilus - a spontaneous outpouring of joy. Gertrude was aware of joy’s important because experiencing joy deep in our soul helps us to be more fully present to the fullness of life Jesus offers us. Tuning into joy also cultivates within us the resilience we need to face the difficult times we experience and to journey through them with a greater sense of hope, that this is not all there is to life.
This Christmas, as you sing your favourite Christmas carols, may you notice “joy” and, when you come across it, may you remember the joy that Christ’s birth brings and the gift of joy that God plants deep in your soul. This Christmas may you know joy, that deep-seated sense of happiness in what God has done and what God is doing.
Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas from all of us here at the Bield!