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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Merry Christmas?

'Joy' is the Bible's word

"Merry" just doesn't manage to cover the range of emotions that Christmas brings. It's like hanging tinsel on the manger.

The Bible gives us a better word: "joy." It was the word the angels used when they announced Jesus' birth — "good news of great joy for all the people." When the wise men see that the star has stopped over Bethlehem, they know their long journey is over and they are "overwhelmed with joy" (Matthew 2:10). Joy is the word that describes the mood of the disciples when they realize Jesus has risen from the dead.

"Joy" carries a sense of contrast, a mood of victory. It doesn't deny the difficulties, but it recognizes that they have been overcome. "Weeping may linger for the night," says the psalmist, "but joy comes with the morning" (Psalm 30:5).


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