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Advent: Joy

Joyful, Joyful

Christmas sucks the joy out of me.

I mean it.

I’ve never heard someone say, “That was a relaxing Christmas season.” And if they have, I don’t trust them. They probably have ties to the black organ market.

The Christmas season starts before Jack-O-Lanterns rot. Neighbors are putting up lights and wreaths and attempting to make spirits bright. Meanwhile, I’m shoveling Halloween candy in my mouth and crying in a corner at the thought of having to find the numerous boxes of Christmas decor I shoved behind something last January.

Officially, I am defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a Scrooge.

It isn’t that I don’t like egg nog.

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the warmth of family and friends.

It isn’t that I don’t love baby Jesus and everything His birth has meant for my sinful heart.

It’s the gifts.

There is so much pressure attached to gifts. Some people are just naturally good at selecting the perfect gift.

You know, that gift that Aunt Patty wraps all Martha Stewart-like that when you go to open it, you lift carefully on the tape because there is no way she didn’t pay $10/roll for this paper at Crate & Barrel. Finally managing to pull it from the paper, you open the box to find the softest pair of socks you have ever felt in your life that, obviously, must be made from baby chinchillas. These socks aren’t normal socks. These socks are the socks you never even knew you needed. Your heart and feet warm at the sight of them. These are really good socks.

Then you realize you bought her a journal from Five Below and shoved it in a re-gifted blue bag from your son’s fifth birthday, a bag that she more than likely bought herself.

I’m a horrible gift giver and Christmas sucks the joy out of me.

While Christmas isn’t supposed to be about gifts, it inadvertently becomes that and I crumble under the stress of it.

And then enters Jesus.

Not to remind me that Christmas is about Him.

Not to remind me to be thankful.

Not to condemn.

Jesus enters offering joy.

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people …’” (Luke 2:10 ESV)

Joy is a gift.

A gift I forget to accept.

A gift that sits, wrapped in really expensive Crate & Barrel wrapping paper.

A gift that was re-gifted from His Father.

A gift that endures.

A gift that reminds and nudges and makes me feel all the feels.

So, while I might show up with a ragged-looking Five Below gift this Christmas season, I will be joyful in all the gifts that God has given.

 

-Stefanie Hammond

About the Author
North Church exists to know and love Truth, People and God.