Sing to the Tune of Joy

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The official one-week countdown to the coziest, cheeriest day of the year begins today!

There are just so many things about Christmas that give me these special “vibes,” you know? Like the lights, the cheesy movies, the hot cocoa in mugs, the pajamas, the music, the cookies, and the kind of snow that looks pretty but doesn’t prevent you from trying to get somewhere.

The more I think about the kinds of feelings I get when I think about Christmas, the more the hymn “Joy to the World” comes to my mind. Because the biggest reason why this day, and wow, every day, brings me the most excitement and the most comfort is Jesus Christ. Christmas marks the birth of God in human form: Joy’s arrival to our broken home.

I did some research on the origin of the song—I don’t know if that’s because writing research papers is all I do, but that would make this the most special research paper I’ve ever written—and learned that Isaac Watts found inspiration for the lyrics in Psalm 98, Psalm 96: 11-12, and Genesis 3:17-18. And each verse of the song reflects the powerful context of these passages, that are still so real in our world today.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav'n and nature sing,
and heav'n and nature sing,
and heav'n, and heav'n and nature sing.

The Lord is come. He was born, He was killed, He was raised to life again, and He is here.

I also love that it says heaven and nature. The pastor at a church I attend described God as “gravity plus grace” in a recent sermon. There are things that exist in nature; that God has His hand in; things that just are, like gravity. And in the midst of this kind of structure, there is love, patience, and compassion. Things that are more than just things; they are feelings and actions that have no limitations or laws or equations to them. And both of these realms sing in harmony of who God is and how He has come from perfection to be with us and the world we live in.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! 
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

Psalm 98 speaks of victory. A kind of victory that produces a kind of joy that infects all of the earth and its guests. “The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation! He has remembered his promise to love and be faithful to Israel. The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God” (v. 2-3).

This psalm ends with the hope of another visit by victory. And that is the birth of Jesus. 

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

Genesis 3:17 and 18 come from the story of Adam and Eve’s sin. As a result of their desire to eat the fruit, the ground is covered with a curse so that it could then only produce thorns and thistles. For they have created a separation between humans and God.

Then Jesus is gifted to us, wearing the same flesh that we wear, walking on the same ground that was once stained with sin. To say “no more.”

He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love,
and wonders of His love,
and wonders, wonders of His love.

Psalm 98:9 says, “He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.” Psalm 96:13 also says, “He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.”

 This kind of judgement has only ever been perfectly performed by one person. One God. How can we be so loved just the same when we are dripping with shame as we are when clothed in holiness? What a wonder this love truly is.

The story of the birth of Jesus is actually one of rejection and strife and terror, even. But that’s what makes the presence of joy so, so real. That Jesus Himself would experience the pain and suffering that we do even before He entered this world. To show us that grace meets gravity; victory happens daily; and sin no longer creates a division between us and the Divine.

This Joy is meant for all of this world. So let us sing of it in every season, on every land, with every person.

Lani-Faith Lucas // @lanilucas

 


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I'm Lani and I love all things sunny and sandy and I have my little island of a home, Oahu, to thank for that. I'm a senior at Gonzaga University #gozags and Spokane has gifted me a heart for servanthood and storytelling. I hope my career is filled with sweet kiddo laughs and lotsa grace for people who once seemed so different from me. I look at the dessert menu before reading the actual menu; I can't wait to be a dog mom; I'm a big flower field girl; and I just loveee meeting pieces of Jesus in others.