“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
My husband and I were in Wal-Mart a few days ago, and he suddenly stopped and said, “Where’s the joy?” It’s true; there was little music, few smiles, and much frustration. But it only makes sense, doesn’t it. The part of Christmas associated with joy is the part that is becoming less and less prominent and in come cases, actually banned; which makes about as much sense as banning flags on Flag Day. Santa Claus, decorations, presents, and goodies are all lots of fun; but if it’s heart-clutching joy you’re looking for, you’ll only find it “in a manger in Bethlehem.”
For those who decline to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ for religious reasons, I honor your conviction, but cannot share it. In a recent article, my son, Andrew, points out that the early Church chose to celebrate the birth of Jesus to reiterate that fact that He was both God and Man, and experienced a birth day, just like you and I. The date wasn’t important, but the event was too momentous to neglect. It could not accomplish redemption, but there could not have been a redemption story without it.
I find it ironic, humanly speaking, that a Man of such a lowly beginning, with (to the world) questionable credentials, who was prophesied to be a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3), could, from His Birth to His Ascension, bring such joy to the hearts of men and women (Lk. 24:52). He was, and still is, the great Joy-Giver. As Isaac Watts’ Christmas song says, wherever Jesus is King, there is joy. To take Christ out of Christmas is blaspheme. To refuse to allow Him to rule in your heart is treason. And both are joy-killers.
I’ve just decided something. I’m no longer going to say, “Merry Christmas!” I’m going to say, “Joyful Christmas!” to anyone, anywhere. Want to join me? Have a Joy-filled Christmas, my dear, faithful, encouraging readers, from a fellow worshipper at the Manger.
There’s a tumult of joy
O’er the wonderful birth,
For the virgin’s sweet boy
Is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! The star rains it’s fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles the King.
- J. G. Holland