My thoughts today are about joy. I love Christmas. I love the time off work, I love the parties, I love giving and receiving presents.
But I have never forgotten Christmas 1984 - my first Christmas as a true believer, a follower of Christ, as a young teenager. I went to the watchnight service and celebrated Christmas Day with my non-Christian family shining on the inside - it FELT different. The gifts didn't matter so much as the fact that I knew the Giver. I felt as if I understood what is meant by "glad tidings".
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
And so every Christmas I try to deliberately recall this great joy that I felt! It's not to be falsified; it's to well up from deep within, like living water; from the Father to me - remembering Jesus arrival in this world IS (not WAS) a reason for great joy for all the people.
I pray for joy for hopeful imagination readers this Christmas.