It’s that time of year, the Christmas playlists bounce us through the grocery store aisles, advertisements entice us to purchase the perfect gift, and we busy ourselves with twinkling lights, ornaments, and Christmas knickknacks. Filling our spaces with bright Santas, gingerbread houses, and holiday gifts, promises we will catch the Christmas Spirit, the spirit of JOY.
My kid memories of joy were caroling, and the Christmas taffy pull at the church parsonage. Warm sugary taffy stretched into long strips, quickly transforms into hard candy once hung outside on a clothesline -- wind chill 15 degrees. But before a yearly dose of buttery homemade goodness, we sounded the message of Jesus throughout the community. Bundled in heavy coats, mittens, and thick knitted scarves, youth piled into cars and off we drove off into the community visiting the homes of many older congregants. Carpooling through the countryside, and caroling at the houses of older folks, transformed an ordinary blustery, winter evening into excitement with the happiness of bringing joy to those secluded by winter conditions. Caroling in rural areas has its perks. Farmhouses warmed by wood stoked stoves, lights glowing through curtained windows, it was as if the recipients of our good cheer somehow knew we were coming. Upon arrival, dodging wayward snowballs and gathering on an icy porch, while standing stationary was fine progress. With everyone gathered, we belted out a medley of Christmas songs, including “Joy to the World,” and an animated “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which prompted our listeners to coax us out of the freezing cold and welcomed us into their kitchen for hot cocoa, cookies, and conversation. Once our bones dethawed we raced back to the car and waited for the heater to catch up with the engine as we drove to the next farm. That was JOY, sharing glad tidings of Christmas songs, and being together!
As a youth I did not contemplate the lyrics of Christmas songs, yet I knew true joy was not marketed or packaged with big red bows, it was a gift of giving and receiving the message of Jesus. This gift, God multiplied. The joy of Jesus radiated upon each face sharing and receiving the truth of Christmas hymns.
Known to church historians and enthusiasts of hymnody, Isaac Watts, (congregational minister, hymn writer, and theologian) found himself longing for joyful worship among his congregants. Dissatisfied with the lack of emotion he witnessed on the faces of his congregants, he sought to rouse hearts to a lively faith to give “spirit and power” to building God’s kingdom. In 1719, inspired by Psalm 98, Watts wrote the poetic verses of “Joy to the World,” and published them in a book known as The Psalms of David. Nearly a hundred years later Watts' poetry was adapted to music and “Joy to the World” continues to remind us that the presence of Jesus provides lasting joy.
Joy is a gift we give to others that God blesses and multiplies. Share His gift of JOY with someone today. God will go before you and bless your every effort!
Joy values the smallest kindness.
Joy sees the world in wonder.
Joy finds contentment sitting with Jesus.
Joy never gives up because God’s not done.
Joy acknowledges the impossible, kneels in prayer, then anticipates God’s movement.
Joy faces giants with confidence because greater is He who is in me.
Joy doesn’t run from conflict because wisdom is free, and the armor of God is real.
Joy understands disappointment can’t linger in the light of God’s presence.
Joy labors with a cheerful heart looking to the harvest.
Joy recharges in the power of worship.
Joy knows no limits because God is illimitable.
Joy shares the message: Jesus loves!
JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME!
Blessings of joy to you,