Jesus is born!

And to that, we ring out “Merry Christmas” and sing out “Joy to the world!”

New babies simply do that, we know: inspire laughter, smiles, and celebrations.

This baby, though, this baby ushered in joy of cosmic magnitude.

Jesus brought joy to bear not just on the woman who bore him, but to all who encountered him with openness to his presence.

His name, of course (Iēsous [Ἰησοῦς]) means “he saves.”

Of course, Christians believe that Jesus saves, but we’ve tended to tie that salvation to what happens after we die.

But wow do we miss a point, if not the point, with this take.

Think of the tangible salvation Jesus brought to the hungry, the sick, the lonely, the poor, the sinners.

And think of the joy the recipients felt in his wake!

For that matter, think of the joy that he felt, walking away from having just dropped salvation and joy in one fell swoop.

So I wonder whether this Christmas could mark a moment when we trust not just that the incarnate Jesus will save, but that he has and does in every moment.

And, given this season of joy, I wonder whether this Christmas could mark a moment when Christians see their calling as incarnating Jesus’ way of joy.

Perhaps we can see our ministries in the world as serving up joy where there is bleakness, grief, injustice, oppression, hate, exclusion, and despair.

Perhaps we could see joy as being not simplistic, but simply an antidote, not to mention an antithesis, to anxiety, apathy, and antipathy.

Maybe we could see our joy as a righteous retort to the ways and powers of death.

In the name of Jesus and in keeping with his calling, we too could drop joy when we feed, heal, attend, subvert, and forgive.

And we could, because this day, this Christmas Day, marks that Jesus is born, and Jesus lived, and Jesus is risen.

Joy to the world indeed!

Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine!