How many times did Ed McMahan make that long, drawn-out, "Heeerrrrrre's Johnny!" to introduce Johnny Carson? It became a trademark, to be aped and emulated by most subsequent late-night TV talk show announcers. It was also the signal that some fun and laughter would be on the way. For some strange reason, all this came to mind while I was reflecting about Advent.
Advent (from Latin, ad venire, "to come") is not so much about fun and laughter as it is about the joy that believers experience in God's coming to be present with them. Indeed, from the beginning of Creation, joy has been the "trademark" of God's coming. In Job 38:7 (NIV) we read that the "...morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy." After deliverance from Pharaoh's army, Miriam led God's people in joyful dance, chanting, "Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously..." (Exodus 15:20-21 RSV). In remembering how God came to His people and delivered them from captivity in Babylon, the Psalmist declares, "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with sounds of joy...The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126:2-3 NIV).
In this season of the year, we await the celebration of God's coming to be with humankind through the most magnificent and complete revelation ever: The birth of Jesus Christ. The message is absolutely awesome! In the night sky a heavenly messenger proclaims, "...I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you..." (Luke 2:10-12 NIV).
Hope has been renewed! Like the Israelites trudging out of Egypt, or returning from Babylon, we are strengthened and encouraged because God's coming marks the beginning of our deliverance. Faith in Christ brings us an "inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8 NIV) because his coming brings salvation. Jesus' coming is God's way of affirming that good will ultimately triumph and evil will be abolished. Good news? Joyful news? You'd better believe it!
So if the hustle and bustle, the stress and strain, of the secular season begins to get you down, just close your eyes and whisper to yourself, "Heeeerrre's Jesus!" and stir those sparks of joy into flames once again.
Ron Covey is the pastor at Douglas Community United Methodist Church.