by Susan P. Harris
In this time when we should be singing “Joy to the World,” I wonder how many of us are feeling the joy right now. With COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths on the rise, how can we sing “Joy to the World?” Social distancing and mass gathering restrictions in place make it difficult to celebrate.
With recommendations for limiting social and family gatherings, this Christmas season makes me think of the movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” or even Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Christmas Carol.” Neither the Grinch nor Scrooge saw anything joyful in Christmas. The Grinch sets out to ruin things for the people of Whoville, and Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser who despises Christmas. I think we could cast COVID-19 in either of those roles. Eventually, both Scrooge and the Grinch realize the joy of Christmas.
We, as Christians, have always celebrated with joy the birth of Jesus Christ. On Christmas Eve and the time following, we usually sing “Joy to the World” with exuberance in our worship. Unlike years past, this year, if we sing the well-loved hymn, it will mostly be in our homes or with others on Zoom. How can we be joyful when all the world seems to be hurting?
The Lord is Come
We only need to look to the second phrase of the hymn and the words, “the Lord is Come.” Jesus Christ, our Lord, was born on Christmas Day. That thought alone should make us joyful and happy during these unprecedented times. Looking further at the words of this familiar hymn assures us that “the savior reigns” and “He rules the world with truth and grace.” The words continue, “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” No matter what befalls us, COVID-19, or some other calamity, we know Jesus was born in that manger, and he is our Messiah.
As we look back on this time of the Coronavirus in 2020, we may think about it as a curse. However, there is still joy to be found as we manage to worship in new and different ways, as we connect with our friends and neighbors remotely, as we share the joy of Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ in whatever ways possible. Let us sing “Joy to the World” as we think about the many blessings we receive, even in time of a pandemic, and as we acknowledge that Christ is King!
Susan P. Harris is past president of the North Carolina Synodical Women’s Organization and a life-long member of Salem Lutheran Church, Lincolnton, N.C. Married with two grown children and five grandchildren, she serves on the North Carolina Synod Council.