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Calvin on Joy in the Christmas Message

If you have read John Calvin but have not read from his sermons, you have missed his best. I have been edified this past week in reading from Songs of the Nativity, a new translation of selected sermons from Luke 1&2 (only one of which has previously appeared in English).

In commenting on the angel’s announcement of “good news of great joy” in Luke 2 Calvin stated:

“Since the angel invites us to rejoice at the coming of Christ, not in any ordinary way but with unbounded delight, let us make the most of the message. What can we say about this joy? If we involve ourselves in worldly pleasures and are wholly absorbed by our own wants, we will never rejoice in the grace of Christ. Let the shepherds instead be or example. Their earthly lot did not change, despite the fact that they had heard the angel’s word and had witnessed the birth of God’s Son. They went back to their flocks exactly as before; they continued to live as poor men, guarding their herds. In terms of the flesh and of this passing world they gained nothing from the privilege which we read about here. For all that, they were full of joy. Theirs is a lead we should follow. For although the gospel might earn us neither wealth nor fame, and although it might not bring us gratification or amusement, nevertheless we should be glad that we are the objects of God’s favour. This is where true blessing and happiness lie, and where real rest is found.”

The joy of the Christmas message is available to all who will believe. This joy is in no way dependent on our circumstances. Praise be to God!

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