advent

a simple Christmas 3: JOY

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Adapted from Advent readings prepared 12/2018 for The HUB Church, Roseville CA

December is filled with the excitement of Christmas – decorations are hung, stockings filled, city streets are adorned with twinkling lights, lamp posts wrapped in garland with bows bright red. Christmas is a magical time and there is so much to enjoy in these last few weeks at the end of the calendar year. But we can easily spread ourselves too thin at Christmas and end up feeling out of breath and out of joy. Joy is one of the reasons for this season: the angels could have told the shepherds that their good news was of many things that first Christmas night, but they announced good news of great JOY. This Christmas we press pause on the rush of life and lean into the pure joy of Noel: the joy of a miraculous birth, of a Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes, of a Messiah in a manger.

This time of year we remember the details of Jesus’ birth: Mary’s humble heart, Joseph’s obedience and the wise men’s worship. Christmas is a beautiful time of reflection – our weary hearts are refreshed by the peace, hope, and love of God’s presence. Sometimes we forget that Christmas is also a time of joyful celebration, and that Jesus’ birth was received with gladness and delight. Immanuel is come – God is with us—could there be
any greater joy? The Savior was sent to us for our great and overflowing joy, the inexpressible kind that makes the nations glad and causes heaven and nature to sing.

The Joy of the Lord is an everlasting and steady one—a posture rooted not in our feelings or circumstances but in the God Who created all and sustains us even now. Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” At Christmas we reflect on the reality that God the Father, Creator of all things, had compassion on us and sent His perfect Son
to dwell among us as brother, friend, and Savior. Even the trees of the forest sing for joy at God’s glory in redeeming His creation, and our response to Christ’s coming should also be to rejoice!

Jesus, help us to live as beneficiaries of your joy all year long, and allow your joy to be our strength. Help us to remember and celebrate everything You are this Christmas, and produce joy in us that will lift us up above both the heartaches and successes of life. Remind us in our innermost beings that the news of Jesus’ birth will always be the best news of the greatest joy for us. Amen.

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