Santa-girl-letterI like reading letters that children write to Santa. Here are two new ones I came across this week.

“Dear Santa, there are three little boys who live at our house. There is Jeffrey; he is two. There is David; he is four. And there is Norman; he is seven. Jeffrey is good some of the time. David is good some of the time. But Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman.”

“Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.”

If there is a single word that describes what Christmas is all about, some people may choose busy, headache, expensive, or even bothersome. But I like to think it’s the little word “joy.”

Several of our favorite carols mention it:

  • “Joy to the world, the Lord is come”
  • “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant”
  • “Shepherds, why this jubilee, why your joyous strains prolong?”
  • “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice”
  • “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’”

Think about some of the movies we watch at Christmas:

  • A Christmas Carol.  Scrooge is all messed up and everybody hates him, but by the end everything is wonderful and joyful.
  • Miracle on 34th Street, a very different kind of Christmas story, a secular one, but still it all turns out joyful.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life, in the midst of turmoil and hardship what do we see?  We see that in the end – joy.
  • Even Christmas Vacation, ends up joyful, because that is the way that Christmas is supposed to be.  It is supposed to be joyful.

How do you get joy at Christmas? Can you tell a few jokes, watch an old movie, maybe get the perfect gift. All these might help, but I don’t think you can conjure up joy. It comes from some place different. Like the children’s song, joy is in our heart.

Do you feel joy this Christmas? It’s not always easy to feel joyful. Life can be hard and difficult. But Christmas can bring us the gift of joy. Christmas is a delightful disruption of the way things normally go.

What is joy? The dictionary defines love as: “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying”.

My favorite definition is from Rick Warren. He said, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

You’ll find nothing in that definition about happy feelings, because, as we all know, happiness is fleeting and temporary. Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. We must choose joy.

In Luke 2:8-11 we uncover the joy of Christmas. An angel announced to a group of shepherds that Jesus was born nearby in Bethlehem. This announcement was “good news of great joy.”

So what do we learn about joy from the Christmas story?

1 – Joy is Available.

Often we think we will find joy somewhere else. But joy is available where you are now. If you can’t find joy where you are, you won’t find it.

These shepherds were going about their normal life watching their sheep. Suddenly the angel came to where they were and announced that great joy was available to them. 

Joy isn’t something that you need to wait for. It can come suddenly, just like the angels came to the shepherds. Since Jesus has been born, that joy is available to us now.

Joy doesn’t mean we don’t have other difficult emotions. These shepherds were filled with fear. But God was announcing joy for them. 

Angel-visits-shepherds2 – Joy is Given.

Joy is not something that is worked up. It’s not something that we can manufacture. Joy isn’t something inside us. Joy is something we must receive as a gift.

Joy doesn’t ignore the hurts and pains of life. Joy overcomes the sadness. Sometimes the fear is still in our heart. But joy will overcome that pain.

The announcement of joy to the shepherds was that something new was available to them. Their normal way of life wasn’t giving them the joy that God wanted to bring them. God needed to step in and give them joy.

You will not discover joy by maintaining your present life outlook. Joy is beyond you.

Jesus-joy3 – Joy is Jesus.

Joy is wrapped up in a baby. God’s Son, Jesus, would bring joy to the world. 

Most of us know the joy we receive from others. I receive joy from my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my friends and other family members. That’s what we love about Christmas. We have joy to spend time with those we love.

But Jesus gives ‘great joy.’ The angel announced that this baby would be a Savior. Jesus would die on the cross to pay of the sins of the world. That is “good news of great joy”. The joy Jesus gives is great because it is deep, total, and eternal. When you receive Jesus, you receive joy.

The joy of Christmas says no matter how desperate our lives seem, no matter how much hurt, brokenness, and alienation there is, because of Jesus there is joy. Because of Christ, no life should be without joy. Because of Christ, in the long run of things, in each life, joy is eternal. Christ can do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. He can redeem our lives now and in the future. Because of Christ, no life need end in a moment of sorrow and despair.

scroogeOne of my favorite Christmas movies is A Christmas Carol. There are many versions but my favorite is the 1935 version with Alistair Sims. When he wakes up from his visit from the 3 spirits, his joy is contagious. He is dancing around because he realizes he has a second chance to share Christmas joy.

Our hearts do leap for joy this season because with God, all things are possible. Our hearts do leap for joy because of the gift of the baby born in the manger who brings joy into our troubled lives.

Receive today the gift of joy. Receive Jesus.

You can read some of my other articles about joy: Do you have JOY down in your heart? The Joy of Forgiveness 

Or you can read more Gifts of Christmas.