Every Advent season I choose an aspect of Christmas on which to meditate. It’s a way to focus on a specific person or event over a period of several weeks. That way I enter into the meaning of Christmas in a new light. A new way of thinking.
I’ve seen a lot of Christmas seasons. So I have to be creative in finding a new focus each year. Sometimes I try to get to know Mary or marvel at the way Joseph was used by God. Or the innkeeper. Or the angels. There’s so much to contemplate!
This year I chose the phrase “Joy to the World” on which to center my musings. An angel brought the message of joy to humble shepherds. “I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people,” he announced. And after the shepherds saw the Christ Child, they went their way rejoicing and spreading the glorious news.
Mary must have experienced great joy! I remember how happy I was when my first child, a son, was delivered. It brought joy to all of our family and friends. Sure, the young mother Mary also felt pain and fear, but the the joy surpassed any negative thoughts. And Joseph entered into the celebration of birth, even though the Child was not technically his. Jesus brought them joy from the very first moment that they saw Him.
But the joy was not meant to be only theirs. Both lowly shepherds and honored wise men were invited to share the joy. And this joy was “for all people.” That includes everyone in the world. And so it includes you and me.
So how can we concentrate on joy in a world of sadness? Shootings, killings, fires, political strife, social controversy all are highlighted in the daily news. We suffer illness, battle family issues, and become spiritually anemic. Where is the joy?
Joy is found in the Savior. In a Christmas angel’s message. In God entering a human body in order to provide an escape from the devastation of this earth. Because He came we can see God. Because He came, we can claim salvation and eternal life through His sacrifice for sin. Because He came we have hope, not despair. So claim the joy. Let it lift your spirit this Advent season to a loftier place than ever before.
I have the word “joy” spread around our home in various artistic forms. One framed piece even says “Joy to the World.” Our advent candle in church this morning represented joy. We sang “Joy to the World” in our hymn sing tonight. So I’m off to a good start.
How about you? What does the joy meter in your heart read? Can others see joy in you because you’ve been with Jesus and pondered all of the reasons for joy? Are you spreading the joy? What are you absorbed in thinking about this season?