Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent Reflection: Got Joy?

Are you feeling joyless this Christmas? 

This morning as I was reflecting on the reactions of each person in the Christmas narrative, the responses were all the same: joy and praise.  Each of them were in a set of circumstances that were difficult and the coming of this child brought hope and joy into their lives.

  • Zechariah and Elizabeth were facing raising a child in their old age.
  • Mary, an unwed teenage girl found herself pregnant.
  • Joseph discovers that his betrothed is pregnant.
  • The shepherds were outcasts in society.
  • Simeon and Anna had spent their life in God's service and were facing their deaths.
  • The magi had studied the stars their whole lives, looking for signs of the Messiah.

The coming of a tiny baby brought hope, peace, joy and love.  The simplicity of his birth caused such strong emotions.  A child born into a dirty, smelly and dangerous world brought the greatest joy the world had ever known.

And we who have sparkle and hoopla, lights and pizzazz find it difficult to have joy at Christmas time.  Why is that?  Is it because we have lost what the true meaning of why we are celebrating this season?  Are we so caught up in making sure our Christmas looks picture perfect that we lose the meaning behind the celebration?

How can you have joy when finances are tight and there is no money for gifts?
How can you have joy when there is no snow on the ground?
How can you have joy when everyone else seems to have the perfect Christmas?
How can you have joy when family members are dysfunctional?

I believe joy comes when we look past the trappings of Christmas and keep our eyes on Jesus, the reason we are celebrating.  He is Lord 365 days a year and not just one day.  He is the Savior every single day of our lives, not only in December.  His birth changed the world and brings us hope. 

If we are looking to our circumstances to bring us joy, we will be disappointed.  If we rely on having our Christmas look like a Norman Rockwell painting, we will be discouraged when it doesn't match up.  But if we look to Jesus for our joy, then He will help us through whatever situation we find ourselves. 

And joy will come when we get our eyes off our circumstances and look around to see how we can bless others.  My struggles will still be there, but I find joy when I look outside myself and find ways to show Christ's love to another person.

Look past the glitter and the commercialism. Stop trying to create a perfect holiday.  Keep your eyes on Christ.  He is the reason we can have joy this Christmas.

Luke 2:8-14 (NLT) ~
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”