Job 33:14-30, Psalm 126, Luke 1:35-45
In many respects, joy is both easy and incredibly difficult to truly understand. On one hand, we understand that joy is something much deeper than the feelings of the moment. Yet, on the other hand, we use the word joy often when we really mean happy or maybe happier than usual, but still happy.
It is time for us to claim joy. This is not a “name it to claim it” kind of thing. We must have a definition that makes sense within the context of Christianity and that helps us use the word in a similar way. Let us define joy as a deep-seated emotion that provides assurance, resolve, positive outlook, and is life-giving through building up of self and others, and is based upon the character and nature of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As we look through most translations of scripture, we can see where joy is not used in the above way and that’s okay. This word is for us to use when we especially talk about the joy of Christmas.
Reminiscent of Abraham and Sarah, Elizabeth and Zechariah were expecting their first child in their advanced age. This pregnancy was a result of God’s faithfulness (not Zechariah’s) and was life-giving in two ways. First, Elizabeth and Zechariah were ashamed (life-taking) due to the lack of a child. Second, their child would go before the Messiah, announcing the Messiah’s coming (giving life and hope to others).
Many years ago, I heard a Christmas Eve sermon that was startling. In fact, my family and I were appalled at the sermon. It started with, “Tonight, we are all pregnant.” It took me many years to actually understand—more than just intellectually—what he meant.
With wanted pregnancies, the two biggest emotions are joy and expectation. These are the two (or should be) biggest emotions of Christmas. Not for the presents or family or food or parties, but for Jesus. The Savior of the world, and of you and me.
1) Are you really looking forward to Jesus coming?
2) Christmas looks: to the past when Christ was born in a manger; to the now for transformed lives; to the future when Jesus comes again. How does that perspective change how you view Christmas this year?
3) It’s easy to get into the habit of “just” another annual celebration with Christmas (as with any holiday or observance). What will you do to keep it fresh this year?
KD) If you knew you were not getting any presents this year for Christmas, would you still look forward to Christmas? Why, or why not?