What do you enjoy about Christmas? What do you enjoy about life?
Personally, I enjoy going to Starbucks with my wife, Louis L’Amour novels, road trips, Disneyland, the smell of bacon frying (actually, anything bacon-related), reading beside a roaring fireplace, the change of seasons … the list is endless.
But Christmas is far and away my favorite time of year. I enjoy the decorating, the lights, the carols played everywhere, the Christmas movie classics, the shopping – no, I don’t actually enjoy the shopping– the baking, the meals, the gathering with family and friends, my children’s anticipation of opening gifts … again, the list is endless.
These are all things I enjoy. These are things that I take joy from. But none of the aforementioned lists identify my source of joy.
C.S. Lewis once said: “I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”
Why is it that so often we take joy in the shadow, but lose sight of what caused the shadow to be there in the first place. How many times have you stopped to enjoy the image of a reflection, and then lifted your eyes to view its source.
Christmas is a time for joy. It truly is. We talk about it, sing about it, hear stories about it, and watch movies about it. But how many of us come through Christmas actually having experienced joy, let alone continuing to live in a place of joy that lasts beyond a meal, a gift, or a bottle?
And too often, in our pursuit of lasting, fulfilling joy, we find ourselves making choices that result in consequences that push what we are seeking further from our grasp.
Where are you going to try and find joy this Christmas?
When the angle of the Lord appeared to the infamous Bethlehem shepherds, this was his message to them: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Good news of great joy. We just had our own Christmas baby born to our family. Six weeks ago my wife gave birth to our fourth son. It has been a very exciting time for our family – no sleep, but exciting – and talk about joy.
The real Christmas story – the real mountain and not just the reflection in the lake below, this is where joy is really found.
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.”
Have you ever sung those words from before?
On that first Christmas morning the Saviour of the whole world was born into a barn. Some royal birth. And that’s the whole point. God became like one of us in order to live a life just like we do, except that He never sinned – not once. And in that, He was qualified to bridge the broken relationship between God and man ever since sin entered the world through Adam and Eve way back in the beginning.
The reality of what Jesus accomplished through His life, death and resurrection (being raised from the dead) is where I have found joy that stays.
The overall story of the Bible mirrors life for so many of us: creation, fall, redemption, restoration.
Like Isaac Newton’s words in Amazing Grace: “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.”
What kind of gift are you yearning for this Christmas? Salvation is a free gift that will cost you everything. But in that seeming paradox is where true life is found.
And in becoming reconciled to God, there joy appears – and it endures through anything and everything.
It’s all about eternity.
Duane Goerzen is pastor at Maple Ridge Community Church.