This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.
Rejoice is a word very much associated with Christmas. The song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 has her spirit rejoicing. The shepherds were given news of great joy by the angel of the Lord. They visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem and returned glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen. That is surely another way of saying they rejoiced.
My A to Z challenge posts about important words in the Bible included rejoice.
Although my A to Z posts are on the theme of Christmas, in the western world we are now in the season of Easter. Resurrection Sunday (or Easter Day) was on Sunday. This is Easter week – a time to rejoice.
While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4
This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.
Rejoice appears in the Bible over 200 times. Rejoice is a word which means ‘be joyful’. It is often associated with giving praise and thanksgiving to God. The books of law give instructions to rejoice. The Psalms are full of instructions and reasons to rejoice. The prophets wrote about rejoicing; even Jeremiah, who gained a reputation for being miserable, used the word rejoice many times, including (possibly ironically) in his Lamentations!
Reasons for rejoicing are different in the New Testament and the Old Testament. One Old Testament example was given in my post for the letter N.
In the Old Testament the people were to rejoice when they met together to worship God. Sometimes they rejoiced over their enemies and other times their enemies rejoiced over them. (It depended on the outcome of battles!)
Instruction to rejoice before the Lord for seven days at the feast of Booths (A commemoration of the people living I tents in the wilderness.) Leviticus 23:40
Jesus promised that his disciples would rejoice and no-one would take their joy from them John 16:22
Like Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes, Paul writing to the believers in Rome told them that he ‘rejoiced in sufferings’. They led to perseverance. Romans 5:3
‘The Teacher is telling stories again. Let’s be quiet and hear what he has to say!’
We sat down on the edge of the crowd that had gathered. The teacher’s voice carried from where he was to all the people. We had no trouble hearing him. It was not always so easy to understand the meaning behind the stories he told.
This time he made his meaning very clear. Both his stories were about things that people had lost. The first story was about a man – a shepherd. He had a large flock of sheep, one hundred animals. When he counted them there were only ninety-nine. One was missing.
He left the ninety-nine sheep grazing in open country and went to find the lost sheep. When he found it he carried it back to the flock on his shoulders.
He was so happy to have found it that he invited his friends and neighbours to rejoice with him.
This time the teacher explained his meaning. The lost sheep represented a sinner, who repented and the ninety-nine represented righteous people, who did not need to repent. He told us that there would be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repented than over ninety-nine, who did not need to repent.
We could see that the religious people were not best pleased with this teaching, but the Teacher had not finished.
He told another story. This time it was about a woman inside her house. She had ten silver coins, but lost one of them. So she lit a lamp and swept the house, looking everywhere until she found it.
Then she called her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her because she had found her lost coin.
Again the Teacher pressed the point home: ‘I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner, who repents.’