Everything about this season is meant to bring us joy. This joy is supposed to be evident in all we experience from Christmas decorations, the hustle and bustle in the malls, gift giving, celebrating with family and friends, TV and movie specials, and getting your kids picture taken with Santa (or maybe that last one just brings terror, screams, and tears). If everything is supposed to bring this joy why does it seem that joy is one of the last words we would use to describe our lives during December? It seems that all that promises joy comes up empty on delivering that joy. Those experiences meant to bring joy may be taking the pleasure right out of the Christmas season. The words that are more common to hear at this time have more to do with busy schedules, shopping lists, grocery lists, travel arrangements, family photos, etc.
Recently, my seven-year-old son asked me if there was something he wanted me to have him pray for that day. I told him I wanted to spend more time reflecting on and experiencing the true joy of the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is something that I feel I’ve missed out on the last couple of years. The question becomes how to find joy in the Christmas story that is paradoxically elevated and unimportant at the same time. What I mean is that the Christmas story is talked about a lot, even read in Christian and secular contexts, and yet that remarkable story we tell can often bring apathy and flat responses.
If the wonder of the incarnation is not gripping your heart or leading to joyful worship this Christmas season how can you rediscover that joy? There is something that I feel all of us can do this Christmas that can bring that joy that overflows into all we do and experience this season. It is something we learn from the angels and shepherds in that old and familiar story found in Luke 2:8-14:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
What did the angels bring? They brought good news that the Savior, Messiah, and Lord has been born, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. What will the response be? Great joy. Why is there great joy? Because this baby would be given “the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Share the Joy with Others
Do you want to have joy this holiday season? If you do then try doing something different than you may have done in the past. Stop reading the Christmas story and tell the Christmas story. Share the joy that the angels heralded on the Christmas Eve two thousand years ago. Tell someone else the Christmas story, explain to them how true joy came into the world, and this true joy can be experienced by them as well.
Instead of using “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” as a cliché or correcting someone saying “Happy Holidays” with an emphatic “Merry Christmas!” Why not tell someone else why Christmas brings joy to you and can for them. The best way to rediscover the wonder of the Christmas story is to tell someone else so that they to can discover the joy of it all. That’s what the shepherds experienced when they heard this good news. The shepherds left and hurried to meet this child, and then once they met him they went out and continued to spread the news “concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:17-18).
Maybe this Christmas season as you share the truth about Jesus Christ with others you will then be able to sing those famous words from Joy to the World with real joy that overflows from your experience of receiving the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ and helping someone else to accept that gift as well.
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.