Christmas is the season of great joy, or at least it should be. God intended it to be. God sent His son to us, so God could be with us. We needed Him. We wanted God to heal us, to love us, to hold us. God came down from Heaven, as a little baby, to fill up our neediness. Doesn’t this sound like God wanted to bring us joy?
I have had many Christmases that were not joyful. That is my fault, not God’s. I had a tendency to get rushed, and stressed over details, and worried over getting everything done. That was not a way to find joy in Christmas. I started to dread Christmas each year. It was just too stressful!
One year, I said, “Enough!” I started to simplify the Christmas season a little more each year. Sometimes my family was not very cooperative, but gradually we have gotten Christmas closer to its original purpose — to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God.
This year, I am having the ultimate simple Christmas! My husband and I will celebrate Christmas together, alone. Our children are all grown, and will be having Christmas with their families. Since it is just the two of us this year, we won’t put up a tree (not even the 3 foot artificial tree we have used the last few years). We will only put up a small nativity scene carved from wood. We won’t be opening presents, since we don’t exchange gifts with each other anymore. Instead of exchanging gifts, we give money to charities. Several years ago, we stopped exchanging gifts with the adults in our family, so we could reduce the amount of shopping, and the expense. We already have everything we need. Christmas gifts are more for kids excited over what Santa Claus brings them, so we just buy gifts for our grandkids. This year, we will be shipping the gifts to them.
What I am looking forward to this year, just the two of us, is to focus on one child, Jesus. For the first time, I am reading devotionals of Advent. Since I have simplified Christmas, I now have time to get prepared for the birth of Jesus. Advent is about preparing our minds and hearts for Christ’s birth. There are several Advent devotionals available free online if you want to read one. Here are two that I am using: (www.desiringGod.org/blog/posts/good-news-of-great-joy-free-advent-ebook) (www.Dayspring.com/love_came_down_Jesus_God_s_promises_fulfilled_multi_page_free_printable) The first one has devotional readings for each day. The one from Dayspring has a word and scripture for each day in December. You can choose whichever you prefer. The point is to prepare for Christmas spiritually, not just physically with food and gifts and decorations. As long as we don’t forget the spiritual side of Christmas, it is certainly fine to enjoy those physical preparations for Christmas, too.
I want to find joy this Christmas. I will sing along with Christmas carols on the radio. I will spend time each day reading scripture and the Advent devotionals. I will think about all that I have, and all that I am thankful for, and all that I still need from Jesus. I will give what I can to the needy. I will wish people a Merry Christmas! I will attend church each week and praise God. This is going to be a Christmas of great joy! Hopefully all my Christmases from now on, will be joyful, even if they are busy and noisy. I hope that you have a joyful Christmas this year too. Merry Christmas!
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)