Leaks seem to be hated recently. And I agree. When our kids were smaller I hated diaper leaks and now a leak in the roof will keep me awake at night for days. However, as governments around the world respond to wikileaks I have been reflecting on the greatest leak ever. In Luke 2:9-20 God leaked the secret of Jesus’ birth and broadcast it to shepherds working the night shift. Up until that moment of revelation Jesus’ birth was Mary and Joseph’s private experience. But God would not keep this joy to Himself. This is how joy works. It leaks into our lives and sometimes floods, but most often leaks.
I think there are plenty of reasons why joy is not our normative experience. For one, we are incredibly suspicious of publicly joyful people. Second, we are inhabited with joy killers who roam about like Rowling’s dementors ready to suck the happiness out of us: boredom, envy, and self-righteousness come to mind. And third, life is tough as we live in a Narnia-like state of suspended winter: “Always winter, never Christmas.” We need joy to leak into our lives and our public experience.
I imagine it was another mundane night of watching sheep until Heaven leaked “good news great joy” all over those shepherds. It was God’s happy dance. Joy has roots in the details and the reality of Jesus’ birth. Unto us a child is born! Heaven shouts, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
The shepherds show us how joy might leak more regularly into our lives. They investigated Jesus and got close to Him. So it is with us when we daily ascribe to Jesus the greatest worth and value in our lives, when we respond to the good news of the Gospel that God loves us, joy emerges.
I love the line in verse 20, “The Shepherds returned…” They returned to their jobs, their lives, their responsibilities…but they were not the same. They returned “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Sounds like joy.
Here is a joyleak to enjoy: