Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Written by Pastor Stuppy

December 17, 2014

May the joy and happiness of Christmas be yours!

A five year old girl went out shopping with her grandfather. They had traveled to a Christmas tree farm to cut a live tree for their home. Over and over the little girl told Grandpa that she was going to pick out the perfect tree. After they arrived, Grandpa with his experienced eye led his granddaughter to some great looking trees. Once they were inspected, however, the young girl would say, "Not that one. It’s not perfect." After several hours of searching, Grandpa began to grow tired and a little impatient. He finally told her that they had to pick one out even if it is not the perfect tree. She agreed and then remarked. "Maybe we’ll find a tree with lights on it next year." This little girl had her idea of what the perfect Christmas tree should be like. It was one with lights on it. Something less than that meant disappointment.

Lots of people approach their Christmas celebration like that. They have their idea of what the perfect Christmas should be like and anything short of that leaves them disappointed. For many getting the perfect gift, having all the kids home Christmas Eve, having the yard and house decorated to the max are essential to having a really great Christmas.

No wonder so many are depressed around Christmas time – their expectations for the holidays have not been met. They have no job and have no money for paying the bills let alone buying gifts. They are in the hospital recovering from surgery. Their spouse is deployed. There will be an empty chair at the dinner table this year because Dad past away. You fill in the blank.

Isn’t that the way most of us approach our lives? We’re happy and joyous only when our lives are perfect. When our job goes well, when we feel good, when the kids are doing well in school, then life is good. When these expectations are not meant, joy and happiness flies out the window. How can someone be happy who comes back from war without a limb? How can parents not feel anything but despair when their five year old dies from cancer? What reason is there to smile when we are spending our first Christmas alone since our spouse ran off with the secretary? We’ve lost our job, our health, a loved one. Don’t all these things make it impossible to find joy and happiness especially at Christmas time?

They do if our lives are not centered on the Lord. Knowing Jesus, knowing his love and forgiveness turns things around. When we know that he will turn every trial into a blessing, the loss of our job or a loved one, while difficult to endure, can be seen as something good. God’s primary concern is not how many gifts we have under the tree or how much money we have in the bank or how big our house is. His concern is our soul.

We have every reason to rejoice when we believe that the baby born in Bethlehem is our Savior. We have every reason to be happy when we know the peace that comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven through Christ. We have every reason to look to the future with hope because God is watching over us and has promised us eternal life with all its blessings.

Our lives may not be easy. In fact, they may be down-right difficult at times. Yet our Christmas joy cannot be taken from us if it is focused on Jesus our Savior. It is joy we will have every day of our life; a joy nothing can take from us. Joy to the world! The Lord is Come!