Deliberate Joy

So, this Christmas is definitely turning out to be a different kind of Christmas altogether. I don’t have a tree up yet because my old standby was attacked by mice and has had to go to the permanent tree infirmary. I am looking for a live tree that I can plant or maybe keep indoors forever. In the meantime, however, I have been concentrating on why I even celebrate Christmas at all. While I love all the beautiful decorations and lights and holly and smells and singing, etc, etc, etc, I refuse to let those things distract me from the reason I celebrate this season at all. After all, it is the biggest birthday party in history and continues to go on each year, even after tumultuous controversy.

So last night as I was trying to drift to sleep, I prayed my usual ‘God, please teach me’ prayer because I know that I have so much to learn and if I don’t ask for it, I won’t get it in the way I need it. Well, I got an answer almost immediately this time and since I have remembered it this morning, it must hold quite a bit of significance (at least for me). It is helping me to understand why we are being so easily distracted from the importance of this season and getting caught up in the hustle/bustle spend-all-your-money-or-you’ll-be-in-the-doghouse baloney.

When we are first courting our significant others, we do things especially for them. We call them just to talk or we buy them something special just because or we will even go out of our way to do something for them when it wouldn’t normally be something we would do. We do these things deliberately and we do them selflessly. Unfortunately, we often tend to slip back into our selfish mode after a period of time because we get “used to each other” and forget to do those special things as reminders of how important we are to each other. This is really evident in our relationship with Jesus but it goes even further because we are influencing others to “pretend” they have a relationship with Jesus when in reality, they do not.

Bear with me here and I will try to explain: If we proclaim we are Christian, how are we showing it? By going to church every Sunday? By participating in the church activities that go along with be Christian? How far does that go? For some people, doing the “church” thing is a part time job and the rest of the week is used for their own fleshly satisfaction. For others, the church activity list goes far beyond Sunday and into every other day of the week to the point where they are so crabby and tired that no one can see the joy in their lives.

We don’t proclaim our Christianity with our mouths, we proclaim it with our lives. We celebrate everything we know about Jesus because we can “see” His love for us everywhere we go. We give to the poor because Jesus gave His life for us. We shower each other with love because Jesus loved us so much that He became the Ultimate Sacrifice. When it comes to celebrating Christmas, we decorate and sing and give gifts because of the intense Joy that Christ’s birth introduced to us. If He had never been born, we would never be able to have that relationship that provides the peace, love and wisdom that we so desperately need. While none of us have reached the peak of prosperity when it comes to these gifts, we all recognize the journey we are on is progressive as long as we are growing in joy and peace. This is reason enough to celebrate but more importantly, we must be deliberate in the joy we feel and appreciate the Giver of Eternal Life every day of the year so that when Christmas comes around, our joy is overflowing.

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