Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Read: [Meditate on the scripture of the week.]
Reflect: [Use this devotional thought for a moment of reflection. Today’s devotional is written by Paula Lamm.]
I love Christmas! Everyone that knows me knows I love Christmas. I always have. It might have something to do with my Dad.
Our house was always full to the brim with people and great food. There were Christmas carols sung and more times than not, snow was falling. Gifts were wrapped under a pine scented tree. We were celebrating something very dear to his heart: Jesus.
Fast forward to today – my parents have been gone for many years, and we no longer load all the kids in the car anymore and head north. The “kids” are all adults now and Christmas morning looks a lot different than it did in the past.
Every year when the tree is up and the ornaments are about to be hung, the nostalgia starts. The melancholy and memories of Christmas’ past cascade in. I do the same thing every year. I pause, bow my head, and let the tears fall. I acknowledge all the beautiful memories, thank God for giving me a mom and dad who loved Jesus, and my wonderful immediate and extended family. Then I always say these three words: “I choose JOY!”
I realize that not everyone has these same memories of Christmas. I’m not that much of a Pollyanna. I have people I love very much that have different memories. This time of year can be very hard. For some, the pain of loss is just too fresh. Others struggle with fractured family relations, or there isn’t enough money to have any gifts or even a tree for that matter!
How do you find joy in the midst of sadness? Jesus gives us His answer when He tells us to love our neighbor. Through acts of service we can lay aside our grief and suffering and love those who feel unloved. People in need are all around us. You can bless a single mom by giving her and her children a Christmas, invite friends over for Christmas dinner and start some new traditions. Pray and ask God to show you how you can share the love of Christ and then take the steps and do it. You will be a blessing and receive one at the same time. Isaiah 61 tells us that “He will comfort all those who mourn and grieve, and will bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” The joy we have isn’t just because a baby was born in a manager, but because a Savior came to a dark and desolate world to bring us eternal life. This is why we can rejoice in the midst of all life’s trials. My prayer for you this Advent season is that you would “choose JOY!”
Today, think of a family or friend in need. Invite them into your home to share a meal or meet a simple need that they cannot meet themselves. Today, share the JOY that you have chosen, and watch how the joy grows.