Joy to The World

Merry Christmas

Christmas day is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, mention of the name of Jesus has become politically incorrect and what once was an important Christmas eve church service fololwed by a close family gathering has become a simple passing statement “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” or maybe just a “Happy Holidays” wish. There hasn’t though, been any less emphasis on Christmas, the focus has simply shifted. I noticed it when I heard this phrase, “Joy to the World!”, as the introductory jingle for a car commercial. Then, I saw it again as part of the over-sized decorations in a restaurant. Christmas trees and ornaments are up and the Black Friday sales are behind us. And, with Chritmas day here, the year-end advertising blitz is nearly over. This is the time when we have asked ourselves, what gifts can we give to our loved ones? And what gifts can we give to ourselves? After all, you have been nice, haven’t you? Go ahead and reward yourself, isn’t that what the holiday season is all about? You deserve it!’ Or, at least that’s what the advertisers have said Isn’t this why you work hard all year, so you can enjoy the holidays? But haven’t you been down this road before, where you spend too much, indulge too much, eat too much? Then January rolls around and the bills come due as the mirror shows the added pounds and the frenzied attempt to find fulfillment in things has failed. Christmas wasn’t meant for our self-indulgence, it is the day we celebrate the coming of our Lord.

This is the time to “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3). This is the time for us to tell what the angel spoke to Mary: “thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33). Mary responded by saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:46-47). This was the beginning, and is the real reason for Christmas. But Mary wasn’t the only one that heard this message from God. There is a song we sing that commemorates some of these visitations and it asks:

Do you see what I see? Wise men from East of Jerusalem had studied prophecy and were expecting the birth of a king to rule Israel and as they saw a star appear, they journeyed, “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). No one in Israel understood, but these men followed the star and “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:10-11). They didn’t bring gifts to give to each other, they brought their best to the Lord.

Do you hear what I hear? Shepherds were in the field tending their flock when an angel appeared “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). As the angel finished his announcement, the heavens opened “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14). This was the original outcry of “Joy to the world” that came as Jesus was born.

Do you know what I know? God sent Jesus Christ into the world that we could be saved and most people have heard this message “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Jesus went around doing good and healing, demonstrating the heart of God for his people. Jesus lived, and gave his life for our sin, and rose from the dead. Now he sits at the right hand of the Father. Because of this, we have already received the greatest gift of all through Jesus Christ: forgiveness and eternal life with God. It says in John 17:3 “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”.

Remember today, remember this Chrstmas, to lift your heart and lift your voice as it says in Psalm 95:1-3 “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, And a great King above all gods”.