Rt. Rev. James R. Wong Yin Song’s Christmas message-Joy to the world …


Rt. Rev. James R. Wong Yin SongI hope that your love for God and your neighbour has been strengthened. The joy of the Lord in you was visible during this time of Advent and the peace coming from the Lord of Lords helped you to be an agent of reconciliation in your family, church and nation.

“Today I wish to invite each one of us to take a look at a song Isaac Watts wrote almost 300 years ago: ‘Joy to the World’. We think of this as a Christmas song, but if you look at the lyrics, it only hints at Jesus’ birth. We could easily use it as a general-purpose song of praise. The words were inspired by Psalm 98, which I encourage you to read.

“Let us face it brothers and sisters: Christmas is a stressful time for most adults. For some, it is a time of intense loneliness or crushing grief because of a loved one who is gone. Even at its best, Christmas means parties to plan, gifts to buy, elaborate meals to cook, long trips to take, or out-of-town guests to host. Instead of bringing JOY, Christmas can bring frustration and impatience.
“We need to remember who is responsible for the whole Christmas story. It is all about how ‘God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son so that who ever believes in Him might have eternal life’. John 3:16

“The first verse teaches: THERE IS JOY WHEN THE KING IS RECEIVED
‘Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.’

“In the first Christmas, we know that not everyone was joyful when Jesus was born. King Herod was anything but joyful when the Magi visited him. To him, Jesus was a threat. Today, is He a threat for us, for our style of living, for our way of talking to others? Are we comfortable with Him being present in our lives? Are we living in the joy of the Lord who is our strength? Joy will be in us only when we receive Jesus in our lives.

“Brothers and sisters, Herod saw Jesus as a Threat, the Wise Men saw Jesus as a Gift, and they came to worship Him.

“The second stanza teaches: THERE IS JOY WHEN THE SAVIOUR REIGNS
‘Joy to the earth! The Saviour reigns! Let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains, repeat the sounding Joy.’

“Receiving Christ is the important first step. But then we must go on to let Him reign in our lives. While He was living here on earth, Jesus encountered large crowds who were ready and willing to receive Him. But they were not ready at all to let Him take charge. They wanted Him to do things their way … not the other way around. If you try to RECEIVE Christ without letting Him REIGN in your life, you will miss out on one thing: JOY. You see, indecisiveness and hypocrisy can actually zap the JOY out of life. There comes a time when you have to admit that you are not fooling anybody. Are we ready this Christmas to let Him reign in our lives?
“The third verse teaches: THERE IS JOY WHEN THE SINNER REPENTS

‘No more let sins and sorrow grow. Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found."

“Sin promises happiness. But Sin delivers sorrow. Satan promised Adam and Eve that eating the forbidden fruit would make them wise. Instead, sin brought a horrible curse and unending regret.
That’s what the song talks about when it says, far as the curse is found. Sin always brings a bitter curse. But there is JOY when a sinner repents. Do not let that word ‘repent’ put you off.
The original Greek word for repent simply means a changed mind. When you repent, you agree with God that what you are doing is, indeed, WRONG. As long as you try to rationalise that there is nothing really wrong with what you are doing, you cannot repent … and you cannot find real JOY.
Repentance brings JOY in amazing ways.
‘He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.’

“This last verse tells why Jesus brings JOY. JOY comes because He rules with a perfect balance of TRUTH and GRACE. You see, sometimes truth is not very gracious. When I hear someone say, ‘Well, I just told it like it was,’ I know they probably just offended someone by going heavy on the TRUTH and light on the GRACE. I like this old saying: ‘Truth without love is dogmatism, Love without truth is sentimentality, But truth with love is true Christianity.’ Jesus brings joy because He is the perfect balance of truth and grace. He is the truth, the life, and the way.

“True JOY will be yours this Christmas if you will RECEIVE Christ, REPENT of your sins, and let Jesus REIGN in your life with Truth and Grace. We need to look beyond the tinsel and lights and see the real cause of JOY. Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!

“Dear fellow pilgrims, may the grace and peace of God be with you all through this season of Christmas! On behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Seychelles, my family and in my own name, I wish you well at the turning of this year to 2013, and I pray for God’s blessings on our common journey in the years to come.
“Together for His glory.”