I’ve been thinking about the massive amount of preparation that goes into the celebration of Christmas, much of it geared toward one day. It’s a preparation that starts weeks, even months in advance. No matter how much I try to simplify, the celebration of Christmas isn’t simple.
I don’t say this to discount the planning, decorating, gift buying and celebrating. They are gifts — that we even have the time and resources for them is a gift. I’m so thankful for this season. In a world that seems less and less interested in Jesus, I’m so happy that there’s a season, even though highly secularized, set apart for the celebration of His birth.
Yet if all our attention is on the one day, or the events we celebrate in conjunction with it, we’ve missed the point. We have, in a very real sense, exchanged a time to worship the Giver for a time to celebrate and worship His gifts. I don’t want that to happen this Christmas season. To borrow the words of the song Day by Day, I want to see Jesus more clearly, follow Him more nearly and — above all — love Him more dearly. And we can have this. Even amidst the busy schedule and the extra want to’s and have to’s, we can focus more on Jesus.
In mulling over these thoughts, the song Joy to the World came to mind. In reading over the lyrics, I discovered a wealth of inspiration and direction for this pursuit. I invite you to ponder some of the words of the song with me.
Joy to the world, the LORD is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room.
May the message to us and to our world be: Because the LORD has come, you can have joy! Jesus’ earthly coming changed everything. We can choose to live as if nothing changed, but the truth is, for those who make Jesus LORD, the potential exists for everything in our lives to beautifully and miraculously change. The last verse of the song says:
No more let sins and sorrows grow.
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
That’s one of the primary things that changed. Our sins and our sorrows don’t have to grow. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He sought us. He still seeks us. If we will let Him, He will pour out the blessings of His grace upon us. He will save us from all the sin and sorrow this world and our worldly desires hurl at us.
The key to receiving His grace is found in the first stanza: “Let earth receive her King.” We have a choice. Even those of us who follow Jesus, must daily choose to receive Him. John 1:10-11 presents a sad truth:
“He was in the world and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
In a time of year that gets so busy, it’s a tragedy to let a celebration of Jesus’ coming hinder us from coming to and receiving Him — from spending time with, from knowing, adoring and worshiping Him. Let’s not let that happen!!!
We receive Him by preparing room in our heart for Him. It’s so easy this time of year to prepare for everything and everyone but the One who is the very reason we claim to celebrate. We can make a clean place for Him through repentance. We can make space for Him by establishing priorities. Let’s be intentional this Christmas season. Let’s say yes to more of Jesus, even if it means saying no to some of the opportunities around us. It’s the certain pathway to greater joy.
Here’s another post about coming to Jesus during this busy season: https://judybmills.coma-very-holy-night/