Digging Deep For Joy

ImageI am sad to admit that this year, Christmas has totally snuck up on me.  Perhaps it was the late Thanksgiving, or perhaps it was simply the chaos of our daily lives, but I truly wasn’t ready. I found myself intensely aware of the lack of joy for the season.  I didn’t want to decorate, because I didn’t want to have to clean it up in 3 weeks (bah-humbug). This short Christmas season seemed to be taking its toll on my do-lists, and my stress level. I was burning the midnight oil to get gifts started and finished in time to send to international family.  I wasn’t enjoying the process.  And then it hit me.  It is truly a GIFT.  This season, we have the opportunity to turn our eyes towards our humble King and show Him the love and adoration that belongs to Him alone.
I found myself reflecting on the Christmas carols that have become so commonplace. (I am often struck by just how incredible it is that we get to hear “Oh Holy Night… Christ is the Lord, praise His name forever!” while we browse the aisles at Vons or Pier 1.  I love this season for that.  I don’t even think that most people hear the words, but for those of us who stop to notice, our Lord is being praised and I love it!)   These songs sing proclamations of the truth of the miraculous birth by which our Lord obediently began His life on earth.  They tell of angels, shepherds, stars, kings and the like, all integral parts of the big story that leads to our redemption and salvation.  This non-threatening story of a baby born with humble beginnings leads up to the most cruel and meaningful death in history.  It is profound and overwhelming when I stop to think about it.
So why then, do I have to dig so deeply this year, to find a sincere joy in this season?  It is a privilege to celebrate my King.  It is a privilege to tell my children the story, once again, of His obedience and the incredible courage that was modeled by his earthly parents.  It is a privilege to do what I can to keep Christmas pure and focused on the truth.  We celebrate His birth, because His birth set into motion the incredible sacrifice that allows us to be in relationship with the God of the Universe.  His birth allows us a small glimpse of the humanity that He experienced during His short life on earth.  His birth reminds me that He can relate to me in such sweet ways.
 And so, I choose joy.  And love.  And peace.  I choose the things that should mark this season.  Not lists, and cost, and frenzy.  It should be a sweet time, when my family feels the love of Christ, and when I walk in the love I have for Him.  I want to model a spirit this month that is about giving, and loving, and celebrating.  Regardless of the fact that it does require a lot of me some days.  Nobody likes to receive a gift from a grumpy giver.  It steals joy.  I want to open my heart to love my Lord and walk in the true gift it is to be His.
This well-known verse from my favorite Christmas carol stirs in me the need to turn my face heavenward and rejoice with all of my heart!!  I encourage you to do the same!
Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

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