Part 3 – The Joy of Advent
Over time, but especially springing forth in the early half of the 19th century, the emphasis of Christmas went from being a time of joy centered on the incarnation – the birth of our Savior, the Christ-child – to a manmade (thus, temporary and surface) ‘joy’ that was centered on gift-giving, Christmas cards, Santa Claus, and other non-religious activities. As much ‘fun’ as those activities are – and I, for one, truly love the festive atmosphere and all the bells, whistles, tinsel, and silly songs that go along with the ‘holiday’ – there’s no greater joy than knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
When the angel of the Lord proclaimed “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”, the “all the people” he was referring to was/is all those who have already or who will come to faith in Christ. Divine joy is a gift from God to His children.
As Christians we need to be mindful of where real joy comes from and not allow the world’s definition of ‘joy’ circumvent that true and lasting joy of knowing Christ. Jesus told His disciples that the true reason for rejoicing is knowing that our names are written in Heaven (in the Lamb’s Book of Life) because the happiness/joy of the world is based on ‘happenings’ and as we all know, happy ‘happenings’ come and go faster than you can blink your eyes. But the inner joy that the Lord gives through His presence, His Spirit, and His salvation goes so deep within the heart of the believer that it (the inner joy) will encourage us during discouraging times; calm us during anxious times; give us hope in tragic times; and protect us in insecure times.