Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are You Merry This Christmas

My church has been blessed to have Dan Garrett bringing the message for the last several weeks. This week's sermon was so encouraging that I wanted to try to put it in print. This is my version of what Dan shared based on what it said to me.

The Google definition of mer·ry is...

1. Full of high-spirited gaiety; jolly.
2. Marked by or offering fun and gaiety; festive: a merry evening.
3. Delightful; entertaining.

Difficult circumstances, disappointment, loss, financial strain or fear of an uncertain future has the potential to steal the joy from the Holiday Season. These issues are not anything new. Mary and Joseph, the wisemen and the shepherds likely had issues too.

Mary was dealing with being an unwed mother, forced to take a road trip, on a donkey, at full term. Joseph was the husband of the woman taking a road trip, on a donkey, at full term (and not the father of the baby). The wise men had to admit that they couldn't explain the unusual star and leave their comfort zone, and the shepherds had to leave their flocks unattended to go see a baby.

They most likely felt helpless, vulnerable and out of control. This is a recipe for depression. According to a leading psychologist, these hopeless feelings are at the root of most situations that cause individuals to seek professional help for depression.

BUT, Jesus chose to leave heaven and became that baby in a stinky stable. He chose to come to die so that we can be forgiven and enjoy His presence in our lives forever. This is a reason for joy!!

Joy to the world does not mean that I have to be perky all the time. Life is tough! But we can choose to focus on the gift -- Emmanuel -- God with us. When we choose to shift our focus, from the difficult circumstances of life, to the God who loves us so much that He sent His Son--We choose JOY.

Once Mary, Joseph, the wisemen and the shepherds experienced the wonder of that first Christmas it is likely that they never looked at life the same again. They saw that God's plan in the difficult circumstances had a wonderful, and amazing outcome and purpose. Likely, they trusted Him to continue to be in control and work all things together for good as Romans 8:28 claims He will.

My prayer for my friends, my family and myself is that this holiday season and in the months ahead we will be filled with joy because God is with us and He is in control.