And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. – Luke 2:10-11
What is the joy of this season? Is it Tradition? Family? Giving and receiving?
The thing about each of these, is that the joy of these things is something very temporal and easily lost.
If the joy of Christmas is family, then what about those who have no family? Does this season hold no joy for them?
If the joy of Christmas is tradition, then what is there for those who have suffered loss of loved ones – or even of financial resources? For them, Christmas will be pure pain.
If the joy of Christmas is tied to traditions: decorating a house, eating certain foods, doing certain things – then if those things are no longer possible, because you had to give up the house, or because a family member passed away, or any other reason, then Christmas will not be a time of joy, but of pain and heartache.
If the joy of Christmas is in giving and receiving, then once again, what about those who have nothing to give and/or no one to receive from? If the joy of Christmas is in giving and receiving, then Christmas brings loneliness and shame rather than joy.
These things are what are commonly held by many people to be the joys of Christmas, but let me tell you: these should not be – they cannot be – the wellspring of joy that Christmas brings, because it is only a matter of time, before all of these things run dry…and make Christmas a time of pain and bitter longing rather than life-giving joy.
What is the true joy of Christmas? It is this: A Savior is born to you, who is Christ the Lord.
One of the verses in the Bible that I find most moving is Matthew 1:21:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins – Matthew 1:21
This is the joy of Christmas: that though you were lost, God pursued you and found you! That though you were without hope, God came near to you to give you hope that extends beyond the grave! That though you were destined for darkness and death, God broke into time and space to bring you light and life!
That is a joy that doesn’t disappear when financial resources dry up! That is a joy that doesn’t grow dimmer as loved ones pass away – but rather grows all the more vibrant and beautiful!
May this be the joy of Christmas for you!
And may we not teach our children, whether in word or in deed, to find the joy of Christmas primarily in tradition or in giving or receiving, or even in family – but in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.