Advent Week 3: Joy
“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11
The theme of the third week of Advent is joy, which is the feeling I most closely associate with the Christmas season. For me, joy comes from gathering with family and friends, exchanging gifts, and sharing our favorite foods. It comes from attending Christmas Eve services at church and watching the same old movies, year after year. It’s the familiar warmth that traditions bring.
The joy of the first Christmas was quite different. It wasn’t the joy that comes from the familiarity of annual holiday customs. This joy came from the newness of a baby, a promised savior that God’s people had waited for so long. It was joy in the face of obstacles and fear. It was joy found in great relief. The star in the sky announced that He was finally here, and the people “were overjoyed.”
My boys have participated in our school’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for several years. I’ve seen it more times than I could count! The gist of the play is that the town’s bad kids, the Herdmann family, insert themselves into the annual Christmas pageant without knowing what they are getting into. All the other kids know the play inside and out and view it as an obligatory part of their holiday season. The Herdmanns have never heard the Christmas story and they are all enthralled by it when they finally experience it. They experience the joy and wonder of it for the first time, and the audience gets to encounter fresh joy by simply watching them.
I want to experience Christmas with fresh joy this year. Instead of just finding the joy in the comfortable and familiar, I want to feel the joy of the wonder that is the coming of Christ. I will turn my attention to all the tiny miracles of the Advent season instead of the obligations. I will look for joy when things don’t go my way. I will find new ways to appreciate the traditions that I hold dear. I hope your Christmas is filled with fresh joy, too!
Enjoy Christmas time’s favorite diva, Mariah Carey, singing “Joy to the World.”