Great Joy for All People
It’s rare for an attorney to serve on a jury. Whenever I was summoned for such duty, the ending was always the same…“And thanks for coming by”. 1 But in 2005, to my shock and despair, I was chosen. Irritated at the prospect of a wasted week, I rose from my chair and drug myself to the jury box.
I’d always looked upon juries as a necessary problem. Necessary because in most instances I’d rather trust the combined effort of twelve people than the limited experience of one judge. Problem because too often those twelve people bring their personal biases which greatly affect the outcome of a case. 2
Our jury was diverse. Black, White, Asian, Native American. Those born in this country, others not. Married, divorced, single. Some had kids, some didn’t. Some were Christian, some not. Students, people in business, medicine and real estate, and one bewildered attorney. In those days together, we learned more about the lives in the jury room and stopped seeing color, race, status, age or gender.
Labels separate people, not unite them.
A mother, with a sick daughter, working two jobs to support her family. The man with a ready laugh and friendly smile, who prayed before he ate. A lady who drove big rigs, whose heart was to help children escape rough neighborhoods like the one she grew up in. The wife studying to be a paralegal and looking forward to the final exam. A dad whose eyes lit up whenever he spoke of his girls. The lady who braved bad weather to be with her mother during a storm.
A college student who carefully went to the heart of the arguments, and another who kept us laughing while making certain we considered both sides. Two young, quiet ladies, who spoke up as they worked through uncertainty, neither afraid or so proud as not to be willing to change their minds. The engineer who lost his way to the courthouse, but helped lead us through the evidence. And the calm, steady woman with the jury experience the rest of us lacked, who kept us on track.
Morgan Freeman once said he believed the only way to end racism was for people to stop focusing on race. Labels like “black” and “white” had become obstacles, so he chose to ignore them and instead look to the person. “I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.” 3 Above everything else, the men and women on that jury were people, each with goals, dreams, needs, wants…just like me. And it got me thinking.
The Great Joy of Christmas is for all people.
On the night Jesus was born, God sent a messenger to share the news, not with kings or priests, but with simple shepherds. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” 4
All people! Not just a few here and there. Not just to those of a certain race or nationality, who go to a particular church or none at all. But to ALL PEOPLE! The child of promise came to die for us all. Why? So that we might know Him, experience true love, and share it freely…as it was given…to all people.
To our Ciloa Family…you come from all walks of life and from every corner of the world. You have blessed us in this ministry, and me especially. May you carry Christmas throughout the year and know more with each passing day…the child in the manger.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement and teaching others how to “encourage one another as long as it is called Today!” He is also an author, speaker, teacher, and encourager. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. You can learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: The original version of this Note of Encouragement, May God bless you this day…with great joy for all people!, was published December 19, 2005. (1) Many attorneys would not want another attorney on their jury out of concern the other members of the jury would look to him or her to tell them how to vote. (2) I’ve seen cases decided on mere assumptions rising from the clothes a person wears, the car he drives, or the money she makes. (3) Morgan Freeman is an American actor, filmmaker, narrator and 2005 Oscar winner. This quote has been been widely circulated over the years. I first read it in an article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, December 17, 2005. (4) Read Luke 2:10.
Pictures: Banner: I Bring You Tidings of Great Joy, from the article “When You’re Floored By Bad News” by Sharla Fritz, 2021, SharlaFritz.com. (1) The Jury, image from the BBC Program The Verdict, 2007, RDF Media, UK, BBC2. (2) Morgan Freeman, photo by PRNewsFoto, AP Images. (3) All the People, image created by Prostock-Studio, Shutterstock.