In a world of misery and anxiety, the Christmas story points to joy: ‘good news that will cause great joy for all the people,’ as the angels told the shepherds. (Luke 2:10) God leads us to joy, joy that is not dependent on circumstances. That first Christmas involved much fear and anxiety: hearing the angels’ news of a baby to be born to a young mother who was not married, travelling to Bethlehem with Mary in a state of advanced pregnancy, finding no lodgings there… all these circumstances were not ideal for joy! But the Christmas story is a joyful one because it tells us that God has taken steps to solve our alienation from Him; He has sent a Saviour!

The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Jehovah is salvation’, and this is good news for us, because we could not save ourselves. On the third Sunday in Advent, we ponder God’s salvation and can only, therefore, be joyful. Paul tells us to ‘be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’ (Rom 12:12) This is the key to overcoming.