Saturday, December 15, 2007

Exhibiting True Joy

Tonight I'm singing in a Catawba Valley Community College Community Choir Christmas presentation in Hickory. (Okay - that's a lot of Cs) This is the first of it's kind. The primary director (there are six), Mike Kirby, calls it the "Christmas Colossus". We have about 250 people in the choir accompanied by the Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra, the Statesville Senior High School Drum Corps and a hand bell choir - about 350 musicians in all. (My band director from way back in HS is the first horn player. He also played at our church concert. I still call him "Mr. Merritt". He was my music mentor and introduced me to many of the different styles of music I enjoy today as well as the physics behind harmonics and music theory.)

Mike Kirby is a Christian. The other two vocal directors probably are also. The director of the orchestra may not be. As all directors who direct joyous Christmas music, the admonition for the choir is to express joy as we sing about joy. Rodney Harrison, the director of worship at my church, admonished us to do the same. We're Christians - this is easy. We know, or should know, the difference between joy and happiness. As Christians, we have experienced true joy. Many of the musicians participating in the Christmas Colossus are not Christians. It is unreasonable to expect anyone who doesn't know true joy to express joy.

There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness comes and goes. Joy is everlasting. It overlaps, I would say, the "peace that passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7). As Christians we can have joy when we are sapped of our temporal happiness. We have the certain hope of the promise of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those who do not know Christ and are not regenerate do not have this experience. To them, our joy is mere happiness and can be seen to come and go. But to hear in the worst of times that we still have joy is incomprehensible to them. When we express joy, it is not always with a smile. But when we are happy, our happiness is backed by something other than momentary glee which waxes and wanes. When we have no temporal reason to express anything else, it is this eternal source from which the Christian can express the joy that is a constant for us.

May you have a truly joyous season. May you know the love of a God who offered up His Son as the only worthy sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. May you see the cross in manger and know that the baby is precious because of the road He would walk and the sin He would bear - yet not His sin, but ours.

Merry Christmas.

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