Church strategy consultant and pastor, Ron Edmundson, spoke about finding joy and reducing stress during the Christmas season in his blog. His list includes: Lower your expectations of others; Increase your investment in others; Examine your own life and address known sin; Change your perspective by choosing to be joyful; and Set your eyes on the prize, Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Edmundson said, if there is any word that captures the mood and spirit of Christmas best, it is the word “JOY.”
In the context of our busy lives, part of our problem is that we have the wrong idea about joy. We tend to connect it with happiness and think that joy depends on our circumstances. We can’t have joy by just going from one Christmas gathering to another, visiting our families, or racing through the shopping mall. In fact, going to the mall this time of year is an excellent way to lose your joy. I have often heard people say that they “have to be happy” because, “It’s Christmas,” yet we all know that Christmas can be one of the most dismal of times for people if they are experiencing difficult personal circumstances. The problem is that we have the disruptions of Christmas without the joy, because our hearts are not prepared for the joy.
Not much is known about Mary before the angel spoke to her. But according to scripture the angel told her in Luke 1:30, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” I believe that this indicates preparation on her part for the events which were to come, even though she had no idea what was going to happen in her life until that moment the angel spoke to her. Similarly, Joseph is described in the Bible as a “righteous” man, who when told by the angel to go forward with his plans to marry Mary, he obeyed. We know even less about the shepherds, but after their experiences we do know that they “glorified and praised’ God. We can surmise that prior to the disruption that occurred in their lives, Joseph and the shepherds had prepared their hearts to receive the joy of what would otherwise be confusing and unusual circumstances. By all indications, everyone involved with the Biblical Christmas story had prepared their hearts before God intervened in their lives, which allowed them to experience the joy of a “delightful disruption.”
So where does our Christmas joy come from and how can we prepare for unforeseen circumstances which could alter our plans or take away our happiness? Remember the words of Luke 2:8-10: “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 of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” The answer is found in the statement that this joy is available to “all people,” and that our Christmas joy is about the Savior who is Christ the Lord.
The world desperately needs our Savior. That’s why the Bible says in Matt 1:2, “ And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” We know Jesus came, to be a Savior for everyone who will believe in him. Not only that, but he came to be Christ the Lord. Today he is the Lord of heaven. One day he will return and set up his kingdom on the earth. Between now and then we are called to allow him to be Lord of our lives on a daily basis. He is the Savior, he is the Lord, and he is the Christ, the one sent from God. The “joy” of Christmas is all about Jesus. If Jesus had never come, we could never have known the joy and the heart of Christmas which is that God loved us enough to send his only begotten Son. When God got ready to save the world, he sent the best that he had, and in sending Jesus, he was providing the “joy” of Christmas. May we do no less in offering Him the best we have so that this joy is evident in our lives each day..
No matter what disruption we may face this Christmas season, may we delight in the joy of Christmas because we have received the Savior, who is Christ our Lord, and may our hearts be ready for any circumstance that God allows us to experience.
Merry Christmas and may God bless you and your family with His joy,