“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
Most people view Christmas as synonymous with joy. Christmas songs certainly seem to suggest that songs like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” all communicate that Christmas time is to be a joyous, trouble-free season. We know that is not always true. There are times when it is hard to have a holly-jolly Christmas.
What can we do to improve our level of joy this Christmas? The answer is found in the story of the wisemen in Matthew 2. Start by asking yourself this simple question: What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? All the family together and happy? Finding the right present to give? Getting the present you have been hoping for? If this is what you are looking for, then you are looking for the wrong thing. The wisemen were looking for the right thing. They came to Jerusalem and said, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas – an experience of worship, a fresh glimpse of Jesus. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then I doubt very seriously we will not experience joy.
The next question is where are you looking for joy at Christmas. We learn from the wisemen that there are wrong and right places to look for Christmas. They started by looking in the wrong place. They went to the palace of Herod and found out that was a mistake. We too are tempted to look for joy at Christmas in the wrong places. We think by getting or giving the right gift we will be satisfied, only to find out we are not.
The wisemen also model for us the joy in giving. The wisemen came bearing gifts. The gifts they gave were entirely appropriate. We ought to give appropriate gifts this Christmas as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about material gifts. I am talking about more important things. We ought to give the gift of our love and kindness to our friends and family. We ought to give the gift of our help to those who are hurting. We ought to give the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Giving these kinds of gifts will result in a joyous and meaningful Christmas.
- How would you rate your joy at Christmas?
- Think of one of the best Christmas gifts you’ve ever given to someone. What made it the best, and how long do you think they appreciated it?
- What are some things you currently enjoy or love about the holiday season? What don’t you like? Is there a common theme between what you like and don’t like?
- What new tradition(s) can you plan that would focus more on Jesus’ presence than presents?