The Joy Afterward

by APC on December 18, 2019

When I was very young, I remember being bundled up in a coat and snow pants to the point where being able to bend my knees and elbows was a luxury. My dad would buckle me into the car, and we’d head off to the downtown area to a little store called The Music Shoppe. Crushing the snow beneath our feet, we’d make our way into the store almost blindly through the heavy snowflakes.

Upon our arrival, warm greetings were exchanged, and we’d head to a back room where my dad would assemble his flugelhorn, and I’d be handed my own instrument: the jingle bells. Joined with other musicians who were willing to brave the cold and frosty precipitation, we’d head back out to the streets of downtown, playing Christmas carols as we went.

With the sharp cold nipping at our faces and fingers, we’d stop—almost out of necessity—inside the local shops to provide a private concert to the merchants. With the large quantities of people, and nostalgic melodies streaming from the instruments, the excitement of the season warmed the hearts of the hearers and provided joy to their spirits.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:8–11, KJV).

All people have a unique perception of joy. It comes in all different shapes and sizes, manifests into our lives when we least expect it, and can unintentionally trigger fear. I can tell you in the case of our instrumental caroling, when you have 15 or more people, equipped with rather large instruments, cram into a tiny storefront, people get nervous (or fearful) really quickly. But, it’s what comes afterward that dispels the fear.

The moment the musicians played the first few notes, the harmonious melodies relaxed everyone in the room. Pale faces became flushed with joy and smiles emerged across the room. And, who couldn’t help embracing the splendor of the moment with me swinging jingle bells around, playing haphazardly off beat? After the song ended, the audience erupted with applause and begged for more of the festive melodies bestowed upon them that chilly morning.

The birth of our Savior was a magnificent event for all mankind, past, present, and future. When the angels appeared unto the shepherds to herald in the news of their King, they were met with fearful recipients. In fact, Scripture uses terminology describing the shepherds’ state as experiencing terror and panic in the greatest sense. But, what came after their initial appearing disquieted all of their fear.

The angels brought tidings of great joy—the news that Jesus Christ was born. He, who would save all people from their sins, was now among them. The message of joy wasn’t an ordinary message. It was one of love: that we have a God in heaven who loved us enough to wrap Himself in flesh, to dwell among us, and to be a perfect sacrifice. And, it’s His perfect love that casts out all fear (I John 4:18).

It was what came afterward that mattered, and should matter to all of us this Christmas season. To some, the Christmas season can be dark and bleak, but it’s the joy that comes afterward that matters. Christmas isn’t just about a tree, decorations, and presents. It’s the joy that comes afterward. It’s not about the stress of scheduling family get-togethers. It’s the joy that comes afterward. Joy will always come afterward because our Savior is here and our Redeemer still lives today. So, know that because of Christmas, we will always have joy afterward, no matter what.