“When the angels announced the arrival of the Messiah, they proclaimed ‘good news of a great joy’ (Luke 2:10 RSV) not ‘bad news of a great duty.’ . . . . Our joy level matters to God.”- Max Lucado, How Happiness Happens
And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”- Luke 2:10-11 (RSV)
When I was old enough to balance the true meaning of Christmas with its more commercial aspects, my mom and dad usually asked me what one major gift I wanted. Back in my Santa Claus days, though, they took loving, educated guesses. Most noteworthy, when Christmas morning of 1957 dawned, my parents bestowed a double blessing.
As this unique photo of Christmas presents depicts, I received a Superior Service Station and a Roy Rogers Fix-It Stagecoach. Because I treasured the corporate comic books handed out by our neighborhood Cities Serviced (now Citgo) station, the service station provided amply opportunity to fuel up and fix my toy cars. In addition, I loved the Roy Rogers show on TV. Hence, the stagecoach with plastic Roy holding the reins.
Yet, the love that motivated my parents’ giving made the greatest impact. Perhaps that’s why the stagecoach retains an honored place in the Man Cave!
In his latest book, How Happiness Happens, Max Lucado wonders about the last time you felt a level of what Max describes as contagious, infectious, unflappable, unstoppable happiness. Often life takes a toll and pilfers that happiness. As a result, joy seems so fragile. One day joy’s here. The next day storm winds scatter that joy.
Consequently, Pastor Lucado questions how we explain the gloom that pervades our society. While varied and complex answers to this question exist, Max contends this idea is among them: we’re using the wrong door. Advertising companies encourage us to walk in the oft-used front door to happiness. The motto on that door exhorts, ‘Happiness happens when you get.’
But, for all its promises, that door fails to deliver. Instead, Pastor Lucado counters, heed the sign on the lesser-used back door. For it reads, Happiness happens when you give. In other words, it creates a boomerang effect.
And that, Max adds, means such great news. Certainly, you can’t control your genetics, the weather, traffic, or who occupies the White House. However, as you walk through the unexpected door to joy, God gives you the opportunity to increase the number of smiles on the planet. Just as Jesus brought joy to first-century Palestine, He’s enlisted special agents to carry on His work. You and me.
O. Henry’s famous short story The Gift of the Magi tells the story of Jim and Della, struggling newlyweds. As the story ends, O. Henry compares the foolish wisdom of the world to the godly wisdom the Magi displayed. Good news of a great joy:
” . . . I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of the house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the wisest. They are the magi.”