“I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10 ESV).
Really? Joy? During these “Coronavirus times?” Well, we’ve had good news, haven’t we? The apparent production of at least two effective vaccines against the virus? Yes, but the virus itself is spreading more rapidly than ever. How long will it go on? Are we ever going to be done with the masks, the social distancing, the shutdowns? We have become so preoccupied with “the virus” that it seems to be dominating our thoughts and activities these days and obliterating any possibility of joy.
Really? Well, no. Not for Christians. And we are Christians. And that means that this Advent season and the following Christmas season is a time for joy. Thus, one of our Advent hymns encourages us:
O bride of Christ, rejoice; Exultant raise thy voice
To hail the day of glory Foretold in sacred story.
Let shouts of gladness rise Triumphant to the skies.
Now comes the King most glorious To reign o’er all victorious.
(LSB 335, verses 1-2)
Rejoicing is a common theme during Advent and Christmas. And no virus can rob us of this joy that we have in Christ our King! We look forward to the return of our King who will usher in an eternal kingdom where we will live forever without sickness or pain or death or suffering or tears, but only joy. This kingdom is coming and during Advent we focus again on our great expectation of what our Lord will one day give us. Advent means coming and He is coming!
And then comes Christmas and we cannot help but take to heart the words of the angel, “I bring you good news of great joy.” Those words never get old. Every year we hear them and every year we rejoice to hear them. Because we know what the good news is. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 ESV). Our enthusiasm for the celebration of this great day, when God became a man to save us will never wane. Our theme for this academic year is “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Our observation of Christmas will, therefore, never change. The world may celebrate sleighs and snowmen, trees and presents, parties and meaningless secular songs. These trappings will fade and will never define the event for us. A Savior is born, not just a savior from a virus – a Savior from sin, from death and from hell. And he saves not just temporarily, He saves eternally.
As you carry out your ministry during these coming days, may the Holy Spirit fill you with true joy over the gift of a Savior and may He give you courage and faithfulness in proclaiming this joyful message to others.
Please remember Concordia Seminary in your prayers. You alumni are one of our treasures for which we frequently thank God. We know you stand with us in our mission to prepare men and women for ministry in Christ’s kingdom. Thank you for your work and gifts in support of our mission. And thank you for your service to our Lord Jesus, who continually fills us with joy.
In Christ our Savior,
Dr. Daniel Preus, Interim President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis