Returning to the Joy of Christmas
The wonder of Christmas was beautiful to me as a child. A special annual concert at church, both for kids and adult choirs. Meals around the tables of my relatives while us grandkids ran around oblivious to any weight of the holiday. There was the excitement of presents under the tree, of a special neighbour who kindly dressed up as Santa Claus every year and blessed my brother and I with gifts on Christmas Eve (a special stop on his way around the world, of course). Then there was the pinnacle of it all: the awe of Jesus’ birth.
As I grew, the awe and wonder faded. The new church we attended didn’t have the same type of special service. The relatives’ gatherings ended, and when I knew Santa wasn’t real, our old neighbour stopped coming. As a teenager, I was still excited for the gifts, as my parents made it special by doing a scavenger hunt for us to find them. But by the time I was a young adult, traditions broke as my parents divorced, and the joy of Christmas as I knew it was over.
The reality of suffering grossly outweighed the sparkle of holiday. Years went by and the suffering seemed to compound. Would I ever experience joy at Christmas again? I know it’s supposed to all be about Jesus, but the other events added so much to the story.
When Michael and I got married, new traditions formed. We embraced the ones his family had grown up enjoying, and tried some of the ones from my childhood too. I have to admit the funniest was giving pyjamas to my “in-loves” (in-law’s) one year, who’ve never had them before. The look on their faces was awkward dread! So far, we’ve spared them of a repeat.
For years, I prayed that the Lord would fill my womb with a child, so I could share the excitement of a pregnancy with Michael on Christmas morning. When each year passed and I received another negative test, my heart sank, returning the sorrow from whatever joy I had felt leading to that day.
As the Lord brought deeper spiritual healing to me each year since my concussion, it has slowly returned His joy to me. But there’s been a nagging in my spirit to focus less on the decorations and events, and more on intimacy with Jesus.
In November of this year, I asked the Lord to refresh my spirit and heart for His story this Christmas. The Bible is powerfully active. It is like a well that never runs dry. His love and Truth continue to pour into my spirit as the years pass. And so, I trusted that He would draw my attention to new thoughts about the birth of the Messiah.
And oh, has He ever answered that prayer!
The awe and wonder of the Messiah’s birth has ignited the joy and passion in my spirit once again. As December moves along, I thirst for more time to sit and discover His greatness. The pages of Scripture, each verse at a time, has been illuminated this past month with deeper detail and connections I’ve never pondered before.
Once again, Christmas has become a blessed joy to me. We haven’t chopped down our Christmas tree or hung our decorations yet. Our house isn’t really marked of anything pertaining to the season (hopefully we’ll get to it this weekend). But this year none of that seems to really matter to me. I appreciate it and am grateful for all the items that remind me of Christ’s birth. The events we attend to celebrate this holiday are enjoyable, especially in moments where we can gather and share new things we’ve learned about Jesus. But all of these things are only merely reminders of the joy I already have within – the hope and joy of the Messiah and all that He was and did for you and me.
Nothing exterior has really changed much, but within my spirit, the Lord has blown on the flame of passion within me to joyously celebrate the birth and hope my Saviour brought to this world, to me, and to you.
How is this Christmas season going for you so far? Is your heart heavy with the weight of circumstances or sorrow? Come to the main reason for the season – come to Jesus, and ask Him to restore His joy within you. Ask Him to refresh His Word to you, and experience the rich awe and wonder of His relationship to His people.
Are you filled with Christ’s joy this season? Be sure to spread that to others. It’s okay to comfort and come alongside those who are grieving and suffering, but it’s also important to share what God has and is doing in your life, in order to bring comfort and joy to them as well this Christmas.
Let His light shine before all men and celebrate the beautiful joy only Christ can give.