Monday, December 24, 2007

Joy



Joy is what the Christmas season should be all about. Children are full of joy as they anticipate Christmas. Watching them, as I did my daughter as she danced in the hall after worsihp one Sunday, filled my heart with joy. As pastor had said that day, "each time we experience joy we have placed one foot into heaven."

Often, the Christmas season it is filled with stress – I know it has been for me these past several weeks. Working for a church can be especially difficult during this time of the year. My plate is extra full with holiday worship services, end of year reports, and the ever forthcoming monthly newsletter to do, which adds up to working more hours. I have the family “Christmas” to accomplish - ya know… purchase the gifts, wrap them, MAKE them, wrap them, send out the cards, maybe MAKE them – but I put up the white flag in this regard earlier in the week and made a digi card and sent it via email to many. The weeks before Christmas I am focused on making sure that my family and loved ones experience “joy” on Christmas, and I am so glad when Christmas arrives.

Praise God for His words in the bible. Through all of the Christmas hustle and bustle only He can offer a calming presence. Joy – the feeling God most wants us to experience. The joy He has planned for us is indescribable. It goes beyond the few moments of joy one has while opening a special gift. It goes beyond the feeling a parent has as they hold their newborn child for the first time.
We’ve been getting a descriptive of this joy recently as we are led to bible verses on Monday nights through the season of Advent.

Isaiah 35:1-2, for the Joy of the Redeemed, reads: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”


Psalm 98 verse 4 paints a wonderful metaphor of the earth filled with joy when we experience God’s salvation: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music…”

1 Peter 1:8 "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,"


The photo of my daughter dancing at church brings to mind this verse from 3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Also the promise revealed to John in Rev. 21:5 "He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Oh what a glorious day that will be! Like the Monarchs we raise in the summer, transforming from caterpillar to glorious butterfly, we will be made NEW in heaven!

On Sunday our family traveled south for about an hour drive to the gathering on my side of the family. Roads were not good, and we considered turning back about half way there…but since we had made it that far we kept going. I did not want to miss Christmas with my family. As it turns out, we had an unplanned spending of the night as ice covered roads and there were white out conditions. For the first time in a couple of decades I slept under the same roof with 5 of my 6 siblings. The only difference was many of us had families with us. My sister’s home had to come up with sleeping arrangements for nineteen people! It was not a great night’s sleep for sure, but what was great was staying up late with my family for the first time in more than a decade, playing games, laughing, and talking. Despite the weather, we were all joyful.

As you gather with family, watch children open gifts, see the joy on their faces - may you experience the true joy of Christmas, which is the feeling God wants us to feel most of all. Not just at Christmas, but always. True joy can only come from having the love of Jesus in your heart. I pray that you know, or are able to find that joy as you seek Him, the Christ child, on Christmas morn. Merry Christmas!

3 comments:

"mother teresa" said...

a christmas to remember for sure!

**Nancy** said...

WOW! Your words are absolutely heartwarming! Beautiful, Rita!

Mary Leeson said...

3 John 1:4 is one of my favorite verses, too! Love to visit your blog and always know I'll get blessed big time!! Thanks Rita and thanks for visiting my blog too!