One of our family traditions is to celebrate four weeks of Advent with a wreath of candles. The first week is for hope. We light the hope candle and each of us shares a verse we found about hope. The second week is for peace, the third for joy, and the fourth is for love. And on Christmas day we focus on the Christ Child. You’ve probably heard of this before, and know that this week was for joy. Today, Mommy shared with us what she found in her quiet time – the beautiful truth of the megas chara (Greek for ‘great joy’) the Messiah brought, and the rejoicing He put in the hearts of many. His joy is unlike any other. It isn’t mere happiness; happiness is not a constant. But the joy of the Lord can be found even when we aren’t “happy,” and causes our hearts to overflow with praise to the One who gives it to us. This is a guest post written by Mommy on the great joy, the megas chara that was born when a Jewish girl gave birth to her Son, that is woven through His life, and that is seen again in the ascension of the Son of God.
Megas Chara. Great Joy. The earthly life of our Incarnate God was bookended with Megas Chara.
The all familiar angel tidings of the season announced the birth of our Savior:
Luke tells us: “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people…Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:10, 20)
And then at His ascension thirty-three years later, “Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:51-53)
In between these bookends, we see the Savior growing in favor with God and man, healing diseases, casting out demons, making the lame walk, giving sight to the blind, stumping the religious leaders of the day, forgiving sins, preaching the kingdom of God. Imagine the megas chara of those healed. Think of the megas chara of those freed from demons. What about those from whom the burden of sin was removed? Yes, they too were filled with megas chara.
But think also of His disciples and followers, dejected at the seeming loss of their leader, their hero, their God. But after three days of this dejection, their eyes were opened after their hearts burned within them as they listened to the Living Word open the written Word in their hearing. And after the scales were removed from their eyes, they saw the Son of God, their Savior, rise before their eyes into heaven. Imagine their megas chara! It can only lead to praising God. Like the shepherds who were filled with great joy so that they told everyone in the city and glorified and praised God.
May we be filled with megas chara this Christmas… filled to overflowing so that we cannot stop it from spilling out to those around us and then upward, ascending in praise to our God. Like the shepherds at His birth. Like His disciples at His ascension.
Like the ones whom He healed – and forgave.