“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)
Isaiah offers us some of the most famous words we associate with Christmas. They are filled with praise, joy and hope. These are the themes that run throughout this season as we prepare to greet the Christ child, again. We love hearing about the family that brings Jesus into the world and nurtures him along to manhood. We can’t get enough of the shepherd stories and the angels singing. It really is a wonderful time of year.
I think it is important that we do our best to embrace as much joy as we possibly can. We live in a world that needs joy, needs hope. Those who have the ability to feel God’s joy then have the obligation to share that joy with others who need to feel it. It may happen more readily at Christmastime, but it is something we need to be intentional about all year long. Sharing God’s joy is the purest form of evangelism.
There are a couple reasons for me to bring this up this year. It is no secret that Linda and I have had some medical challenges this year that could easily have robbed us of our joy. Thankfully, we also had a church family who was willing to share their joy with us and keep us going through everything that has come our way in the last six months. We are thankful for your prayers and support, the generous meals, the cards and gifts, and your love and care for us both.
While there is still a long road ahead for Linda’s complete recovery, we are filled with joy to announce that her tumor is gone. Prayers and good medicine have done their job and she has cleared a major hurdle. There is more treatment ahead and she still has other issues that may require surgery and rehabilitation. But, the point is that we have reached a huge milestone. When things were darkest we were determined to keep our joy in knowing that God was with us. Now we celebrate with joy that God is still working hard for us. We want to share our joy with you because you have been such an important part of this journey so far. Thank you!
I also want us to realize how much our community and our culture needs the gifts we’ve been given by the God who gives us such joy. Throughout this Advent season we’ve talked about how we are blessed to be a blessing and how God sent Jesus to model a way of life for us. We’ve looked at the urgency in the Gospel and the challenge of following Jesus. All of this has been building to the culmination of our waiting – the acknowledgement of Jesus who is already here with us, calling us to share what we’ve been given.
Certainly, I hope that all of us will be generous this holiday season in helping with such things as the Angel Tree project, year-end donations to the church, and helping people who need a little extra this time of year. There are lots of worthy places to give your money at Christmas. But, I also hope that you will find ways to share your joy with people this year. In many ways, this is more important than how you choose to spend your money. Gifts for your loved ones are great, but they have a limited shelf-life. Sharing yourself is timeless and limitless. Joy to the world!
Pastor Don and Linda