Shop the Black Friday & Cyber Monday deals, get the tree up, hang the Christmas decorations, make cookies, create, order, address and mail the cards, plan and host the parties and don’t forget to remember the reason for the season! Whew!
This time of year is reserved to reflect, enjoy and prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas. Instead, when our lives are chock full of everything else, we miss experiencing all that Christmas is. For the next three weeks leading up to Christ’s birth, let’s pause our hectic lives for a few moments each week and remind ourselves of some important Christmas fundamentals.
This year, fear is on all our minds. Whether it’s fear of terror in our world, fear of change, or fear of the unknown, fear creeps into all our hearts and minds at one time or another. But when we allow fear a foothold in our lives, we risk losing one of the most beautiful elements we are supposed to experience and share this time of year and everyday as Christians: joy.
For me, the opposite of fear is joy.
When fear steals, joy gives.
When fear holds us back, joy encourages possibility.
When fear breeds hate, joy shines love.
Think of Mary as the angel Gabriel told her about Jesus. Initially, fear was her reaction. But her fear quickly turned to joy as she trusted, accepted her role and praised him in song. Let this be our example.
Christmas represents God keeping his promise to send the Messiah to save us from sin and death. This is meant to be a fabulous time full of joy and praise, not fear and stress. Let’s ask ourselves-why do we add events, commitments or pressures to our Christmas season bringing stress or fear? Instead, ask if what we are doing honors Him and brings His joy to others or ourselves. If not, why not?
Let’s not forget Jesus’ reminder to stay attached to Him as the vine and remain in Him. When we do, Jesus tells us:
I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! ~ John 15:11
The Holy Spirit provides each of us with joy as a gift. Accept and honor His gift with how we celebrate this season. Let’s shift our perspective off of our to-do lists or fears and onto making joy our goal. Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians is a great reminder for us this Christmas season, today and everyday : always be joyful.