I ENJOY the lead up to Christmas as much as the big day itself.
As the song goes: ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’.
All of the expectation brings joy into our lives – we look forward to time with family, Christmas parties with friends and the giving of gifts to those we love.
For my family, the Christmas traditions of Advent give us wonderful times together, exploring the promises of God given to us in Jesus – and Pinterest helps us to have lots of fun along the way.
Joy is the emotion I experience the most in Advent and Christmas, not just because of Christmas lights, food and family, but through the story of Jesus and his humble entry into our world.
It tells us so much about God that he lovingly came as a person to us, born as a baby in an animal feed trough (aka manger).
It is important to acknowledge that Christmas time can also bring stress. No doubt your minds have turned to where you will be celebrating, whose family you will visit on Christmas Day, who is doing the cooking, what presents you still need to buy.
How are you going to fit all this in?
How will you afford it?
These questions, along with all the usual everyday tasks, Christmas parties and work still to finish, can make it overwhelming.
The mix of joy and stress often makes Christmas a most befuddling time of the year.
There is an interesting moment in the Bible when the Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippian church, commands them to rejoice.
This is not an example of arrogant leadership, but an understanding that joy involves choice.
We understand this when we tell our children not to find joy in the misfortune of others. They can also be told to find joy in other, better things.
Paul’s advice after telling them to rejoice is to take their anxieties to God in prayer and petition (Philippians 4:6).
We don’t have to pretend that Christmas is easy. It can be a difficult time.
Tell God all about it.
He also gives his church two important points for finding joy.
When they take their worries to God they are to do so ‘with thanksgiving.’
We need to locate those things that are good even in the midst of stress.
Most importantly Paul told this church to ‘rejoice in the Lord.’
We have a reason for joy – God has given us Jesus.
Through Jesus, God understands what it is like to be human and shows us how to live the life God made us for.
We find joy in God’s forgiveness.
Choose joy this Advent and Christmas season, if necessary choose joy under pressure and know that God is there to listen when you are ready to talk.
It is the most wonderful time of the year because we can celebrate God’s gift and his loving embrace of the world in Jesus. Rejoice!
Moama Anglican Grammar