Do the approaching holidays bring you joy? Or not?
Everywhere you go, anticipation of Christmas Day abounds. Neighborhoods glitter with lights outlining rooftops and everything on the ground that can be wrapped or staked. Reds, whites, purples and blues reign in the form of sleighs, Santas, and snowmen in the darkness. Christmas trees twinkle behind windows, promising wonderful surprises for December 25th.
But on the other side of the glitz and glamour is a different story that begs telling.
Shoppers exhaust themselves over the hunt for good parking spaces as they fight bumper-to-bumper traffic. Artificial trees, lights, wreaths and bows adorn malls and stores, luring buyers to the latest price reductions on popular merchandise. To find that perfect gift at that perfect sale price means pushing and bustling through the thick crowds, even at wee hours of the morning–even on Thanksgiving Day.
Then more work ensues, from tediously wrapping each present to cooking a deluxe Christmas dinner. As if that’s not enough, there’s the worry of how all those relatives– seen only once a year–will get along at the dinner table. Can the clashes of personalities, seasoned with sarcasm and a sprig of jealousy, lead to a bad case of indigestion?
By the end of Christmas, emotions are a mixture of a little bit of everything ranging from exhilaration to disappointment with a generous dash of exhaustion.
So how can we to find true joy in this season?
On the first Christmas, Mary rocked back and forth on the donkey which carried her from Nazareth to Bethlehem. She bent forward in pain as the growing labor stabbed her body. Joseph’s face was set with anxious determination as he sought shelter for them. A stable with clean straw served as her maternity bed, surrounded by animals witnessing this miraculous birth.
There was no Christmas tree, but a shining star blazed with triumph in the heavens.
There were no carolers, but real angels sang and blew their trumpets as they announced His birth to the nearby shepherds.
There was no engraved birth announcement, but His star in the sky announced that a savior for all mankind had been born.
There was no exchange of gifts, but three kings from other lands brought Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In the simplicity of the first Christmas, let’s all put aside our 21st century first-world problems and reflect on Him. He is the perfect gift given to us by our God, His Father.
I pray that Jesus would be born into your hearts this Christmas season. Receive Him fresh this year and freely give away His love to others. That is the way to find joy this holiday season.
Joy to the world, The Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart, prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing!