Read Luke 2:14-15
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas.” “Have a holly, jolly Christmas.” “We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Merriment is all around us. We decorate with large letters spelling out “Merry Christmas” and “J.O.Y.” We throw large holiday celebration, and we determine how to make others happy with specially chosen gifts. It’s fascinating to observe how Christmas tends to make us obsessed with happiness and joy. For those not in the Christmas spirit, we tell stories of the Grinch and Uncle Scrooge to convince them that they, too, should join us in a pursuit of Christmas joy. The emphasis on those who rob Christmas of joy tells us something about what we’re longing for. We even try to help those who channel their “inner Grinch,” and we tell stories of how negative emotions or a refusal to love simply ruins the holiday spirit.
We’re all on a search for happiness. And many people long to experience an extra dose of joy arising from the spirit of Christmas. But ironically, although we want happiness, we struggle to experience happiness simply by trying to be happy. Unfortunately, we can’t churn up joy instantly. Joy can only be an overflow of what we’re cherishing in our heart. Joy flows out of what we love and what we praise.
In other words, joy results from what we worship. And, whether we realize it or not, we’re always worshipping something.
If we’re honest, we may find ourselves struggling to experience true happiness this Christmas, too. We may focus on loving loved ones; loving new things; loving the sights, the smells, and the sounds of fond childhood memories. And it can be true that, as we savor and praise the spirit of Christmas, we experience joy and happiness in the process. However, the dilemma is that praising the holiday spirit will eventually fail us. The sights and smells and sounds will be put away. Our new gifts will lose their luster. Loved ones will continue to fail us.
Yet, when our praise flows from the true source, holiday festivities become icing on the cake as we praise the unfailing source of our joy. This holiday was never designed to generate worship of a seasonal spirit. The true source is not a “spirit” as in a “general atmosphere,” but a Spirit who is the person of Christ. From His Spirit flow joy, salvation, freedom, and purpose. Just like the angels respond with singing about the “good news of great joy,” this holiday began as a celebration of the birth of a little Jewish boy in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago — and it’s turned into the greatest celebration of merriment and happiness in our calendars today. True Christmas joy is the result of Jesus coming to rescue us from the trap of sin and death. He comes to punish sin and conquer death, and so we sing along with the heavenly realms, “Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!”
Reflection and Response
Advent is a time of joy and a time to sing praises for what the Lord has done for us. Write your own song of praise to the Lord today celebrating what he has done for you!
By Yvonne Biel