By Hannah Sweet
It’s no secret that my husband and I do not live near any of his family, but instead live near mine. At Christmas time his family will send us gifts; and now, we are kind of little kids when we get these gifts and instead of waiting for Christmas to open them, we tear into them as soon as we receive them. Sorry guys! I am of the firm notion that there are two types of present openers. The first will tear into everything as quickly as they can and then take inventory. The second, like me, open each gift carefully with heightened excitement for each gift. My husband thinks it’s amusing and has threatened on numerous occasions to film me opening things so that he can show everyone how excited I am about every single item I receive. I believe that you should not only give cheerfully but receive cheerfully. That bot h are equally important. The Advent season is the perfect example of such a philosophy. God gave us the most important thing to Him, His son, and He did so joyfully. In return, all those who were a part of His birthing story received Him with joy. With only three letters, it’s safe to say that joy is one of the hardest working adjectives around. To make a bit of a silly analogy, joy is a lot like the Genie from Disney’s Aladdin. It’s an itty bitty word with unlimited cosmic power. Jesus is the living personification of joy. To know Jesus is to know Joy. Joy is one of those emotions that begins as a spark and catches fire, spreading from person to person; and at Christmas the joy is in over abundance. Joy is in the air, thick like a miasma, joy fills every man, woman and child; every nook and corner. Christmas joy is a joy with no compare. That’s because Christmas is not just the birthday of Jesus, but the birthday of true Joy. As you go through your holiday, and you give your gifts to your loved ones, remember to take extra joy in the things that are given to you. They may not be what you want, or even what you’ve asked for, but they were given with a joyful heart and it would be a disservice to not receive them with the same joyous spirit. Joy can move mountains. God gave us pure joy in the form of a baby boy, and it was so full of jubilation that not only did man have to pay it honor but the heavens and earth themselves resounded so joyously that the stars pointed the way. Every single entity involved with the birth of Jesus received him with joy. They were able to do that because their hearts were open to the joy. So this holiday season I challenge you all to leave a little room vacant for the joy of Jesus. If you find you are having trouble opening your heart to the joy of Christmas try praying this prayer:
Lord, thank you for giving me your son with all the joy of the universe. Please help me to be a joyful receiver. Let me be a conduit for joy, so that all I encounter may know the feeling of pure joy, the joy that can only come from your son, Jesus Christ. Help me keep the Joy of Jesus alive not only at Christmas, but all year long. In your name I pray, Amen.