Finding Joy at Christmas
The prophecy would be fulfilled! The promise would come true!
Joy was born into a waiting world. Joy is still being born into a waiting world.
Jesus Christ was born and heaven’s joy could not be contained. High over Bethlehem, angelic music filled the skies and gentle shepherds made their way to the manger bed. The joy that began at a manger soon reached others in a distant land and the magi followed a brilliant star to the newborn King. They too rejoiced.
And this Christmas Eve is our time to rejoice. Christ the lord is born! Let us prepare him room! Room in our hearts. Room in our celebrations. Room in our lives. Room in this darkened world. Joy to the world! Joy for the whole world. Let heaven and nature sing, for Christ the savior is born!
(Please light the candle)
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonder Counselor, Mighty God,everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Brief Personal Reflection - Share an Christmas memory of joy; something that helped you realize that Jesus is God-with-us, never to leave us.
Dear God, on this holy night we pray that Christ will be born in countless hearts once again or in someone’s heart for the very first time. This is our greatest joy, that Christ would make his home in our hearts. And not just for tonight, but for all our days. Glory to you O God. Glory in the highest. Alleluia! Amen.
Read: Today we light the Advent candle of love. At Advent we ultimately remember God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. The promises of God rang out through the centuries with the promise of a Messiah, a Savior, who shall be Christ the Lord. Today we live in a world where the Savior has come. We remember what is meant by waiting, preparing and anticipating. We continue to prepare our hearts once again to receive God’s gift of restoration, presence and salvation in Jesus. We look to the day when all creation will sing for joy with all God’s people!
Psalm 65:5-8, Isaiah 61:10a, 11
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds
are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
At Christmas we celebrate the unconditional spirit of love which helps us to love others and ourselves. We hope that our prayers and our actions give God reason for joy!
Brief Personal Reflection - Share an experience or description of the joy that comes from loving others in Jesus name.
God, we thank you for your son for there is no greater gift that you could give us, no greater act of love, than sending Jesus to walk this earth with us and make a way for us to draw near to you in faith, hope and love. May Jesus’ sacrificial love empower us to break down personal walls of bitterness, to receive his forgiveness, to love the unlovable and to boldly share their love with others. Amen.
Today we light the Advent candle of Joy. There are many kinds of Christmas joy. There is the happy anticipation of reunions with loved ones and the giddy excitement of children. There is the gift of cherished Christmas memories and the delight in creating new traditions for the future. So many experiences add to our Christmas joy but there is only one joy that lasts for eternity. God’s word reminds us to be joyful in the knowledge that there is but one God, lord of lords, King of kings, Creator of the heavens and the earth.
(Please light the candle)
9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Time for Personal Reflection - Share an experience or description of the joy that comes from realizing God’s gift of joy is lasting and meant for you.
Lord, you are the one we’ve all waited for and we’re so grateful that you came to Earth for us all those years ago. Just as God filled the hearts of those who first proclaimed Jesus birth and those who later followed him, fill our hearts today with that same deep, unmatchable joy. As Advent moves on, help us to share this joy with all whom we meet.
Our Christmas joy reaches across the centuries, connecting us with the joy of those who experienced the first Christmas. How God’s people rejoiced at the prophecies announcing the Messiah! How Mary’s spirit soared at the heavenly message that she was chosen to bear God’s son! How the shepherd’s responded in joy to angelic glorias! How the magi joyfully bowed to offer gifts to the King of kings.
May every heart cry out in joy today knowing that God is with us, Emanuel, Jesus, born of Mary and lauded by the humble and the wise.
You may light the second candle.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear.
Take time for personal or family reflection. Remember a time or share with one another an experience or description of the joy of Jesus being Emanuel, God with us.
God, thank you for your son Jesus, who is the King of Kings. He has told us that his peace will come to us, just not as the world defines it. Lord, you are the one who sustains us when life feels chaotic. As Christmas approaches, help us to choose wisely ourselves in what we do and in our use of time in such a busy season. Keep us prayerful and fill us with the peace that you offer, so that we will share it with others. Amen.
Time to get out your Advent wreath or make one or buy one! Gather the family or use this as a personal devotion.
Today we begin the journey of Advent. Each week we will light a candle that reminds us to prepare out hearts for the coming of the Christ child, who is the light of the world.
This is our age old tradition that helps us to remember the promises of God which become ours in Jesus the Christ. Our memories of Christmas are but a small part of this great legacy. Over 2000 years have passed. Each Christmas is filled with prayers for hope and peace on earth. Over 2000 Christmas Days have dawned, each one bringing joy for people of good will.
There was a time before the first Christmas memory was born. There was a time when Christmas was only a prayer and a prophecy. It was a flame that burned from the altars of temples and in the hearts of God's people. Joy - was a promise - waiting to come true!
Scripture Reading Isaiah 51:4
Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples.
Personal Reflection - Take a moment to remember an experience of joy in your life when the promise made so long ago of a Messiah, became realized in your life.
Prayer - Lord, you are the one we’ve all waited for and were so grateful that you came to earth, for us, all those years ago. We thank you for having saved us and for the joy you made possible for us. Help us to remember this holiday season is about you. Give us your joy and help us to share it. Amen.
Joy to the World, that beloved Carol, will be our song for Advent. Enjoy the words of verse 1 once again:
Joy to the world
The Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing