Luke 2.8-10News of great joy.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy...
As a psychologist I think a lot about human neuroses. We are all so, so neurotic. Anxious. Stressed. Worried. Obsessive. Addicted. Perfectionistic. Sad. Angry. Depressed. Frustrated. Irritable. Petty. Jealous. Mean. Competitive. Domineering. Spiteful. Impulsive. Compulsive. Negativistic. Cynical. Hateful. Judgmental. Dependent. Co-dependent. Narcissistic. Vain. Self-critical. Shamed. Guilty. Self-loathing. Misanthropic. Fearful. Smug. Snobbish. Insecure.
I've thought a lot about what makes us so neurotic and what might be done about it. What's the cure?
In writing The Slavery of Death I came upon what I think is the best answer to that question.
What is the cure of neurosis?
As I ponder the list above I have a hard time seeing a joyful person wrapped up in any of that stuff. Joy, it seems to me, is the antidote to neurosis.
It's hard to be joyful and neurotic at the same time.
And so here, at the start of the Advent season, I'm struck by the message of the angels.
"I bring you good news of great joy."
Christianity is a religion that was founded upon joy. And over the course of 2,000 years I think we've often forgotten that.
May we, this Advent season, remember and reclaim the joy.