[This post first appeared December 25, 2009.]
One of my favorite carols is Joy To The World. The words are by Issac Watts, based on Psalm 98:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He cometh to judge the earth, with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.
Some say Joy To The World is not about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. They say it is about His second coming, not His first. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World.)
The joy that is sung about, then, is a future joy that will occur when Christ returns, to “make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness,” in that full expression of His Kingdom-yet-to-come. But for me, the song makes as much sense as a celebration of the first coming of Christ.
While I’m looking forward to that full and perfect expression of Christ’s Kingdom-yet-to-come, I’m also celebrating the Kingdom-already-here. Jesus is Lord of all. Today! Not just in the future, but in this present moment also (Acts 2:36; 10:36).
Of course the Kingdom of God is not fully recognized yet, or perfectly functional right now. This will happen when Christ comes the second time. But the domain over which Christ is King (that is, His King-domain) includes both Heaven and Earth today.
This is the greatest Christmas gift: Christ the King has come “to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.” Right now.
Our Savior came to make His blessings to flow through carpenters, cops and CEOs who are reconciled to God, and reconciling all things to Him, including their work things! That's the idea behind Christ's coming in the first place. See II Cor. 5:17-20 and Col. 1:17-20.
So, no more let thorns infest the ground. By God's amazing grace, let's put our work gloves on, go to our workplaces after the Christmas holiday and pull up some bramble bushes--and plant some redwood trees.
Joy to the Earth! the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!
And now about ducks: Although I'm not a Duck Dynasty aficionado, one would have to be living under a rock to not be aware of this week's reaction to the father of the Robertson family, Phil, saying [in his own 'straight talk' way] that sodomy is a sin [along with fornication, adultery...and more]. It is rare to hear sin called sin these days, especially from pop icons. (It is becoming increasingly rare in the church.) For those who may not be aware, the Duck Dynasty television program has one of the largest audiences in the USA, with some 11 million weekly viewers, which is remarkable considering the family concludes each program with a prayer "in Jesus' name." Just in case you haven't heard, last night the family issued a statement: Robertson Family Response.
Here's Albert Mohler's comments on CNN about the matter, along with comments by Wilson Cruz, of GLADD: http://youtu.be/kqn3cwF5Zig