Yesterday capped off the ending of a joy filled week. We began with a Christmas party on Wednesday with the Board of Directors of the children’s theatre I work with – good food and great company. On Friday we had dinner with my son and his girlfriend – a special time for us since they live quite a distance from us. Saturday, another festive party at the lovely home of a lifelong friend and yesterday we went Christmas caroling with a small choir of voices – to the shut-ins from our congregation – who appreciated our singing with a show of tears welling in their eyes.
Each event was a reminder of the wonderful joy that permeates this time of the year –
A joy that can’t be described except through experiencing it,
The joy of singing and conversation with old friends,
Engaging in laughter and being with those you care about.
We decorate our homes, we bake special treats, we overindulge, we shop until we drop,
We often forget that tiny child laying in a makeshift bed, surrounded by dirty sheep and cows. Only a short time prior, the Son of God was being pushed through the birth canal and became our brother. God’s own Son was born on that first Christmas, to live among His people – to experience humanity, yet remain sinless until His crucifixion when He carried the sin of the world to the cross.
Some things are changing in our lives. This is our first year in our 54 years of marriage, that we don’t have a Christmas tree. Even my Charlie Brown tree is tucked away in the attic. I’ve limited the amount of decorations, because as we age it becomes harder and harder to do some of these things.
When we place our hope and joy in the material things of this world, we often come up empty. The true reason for this season was born in animal shelter. His mother must’ve known this was God’s own Son as she held Him in her arm. She was merely the vessel which carried Him into the world. Still, there were so many questions – so much mystery – so few answers, but joy rose out of that nativity scene as shepherds came from their fields to worship Him – men who studied the stars came with gifts to bestow upon Him – angels sang His praises in the heavenly realms.
Joy is a word derived from Latin, gaudia, which means to rejoice; and from the Greek gethein to rejoice., from gaudēre to rejoice; probably akin to Greek gēthein to rejoice. The word describes a most wonderful feeling of elation for something has been anticipated for a long time. Jesus came to the world to save us. That was His only worldly mission and He accomplished it with shame, humility, pain, suffering and death. When He rose, He made a future for us in eternity. That’s the real joy of Christmas. Rejoice, for God’s own Son came to live with us. He is the true Immanuel (God with us.)