The joy of Christmas

Have you ever noticed what joy pervades the Bible accounts of the birth of Christ Jesus? Matthew, describing the search for and culminating discovery of the infant Jesus by the Magi, records, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." Matt. 2:10. Luke, who relates the shepherds' visit to the manger, tells us, "The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen." Luke 2:20. A thoughtful, reverent reading of these two stories never ceases to impart quiet joy.

In the commercial celebration of Christmas today, it sometimes seems that this simple and genuine joy is in danger of disappearing. A giant billboard overlooking a busy street near us proclaims, "Give the joy of Christmas. Give—" (naming a popular wine). Shoppers crowd department stores and often become less and less joyful as December 25 approaches and the search for gifts, which may bring dubious pleasure to the recipients, becomes frantic. Certainly gifts and family gatherings may be appropriate when they are motivated by genuine love, but is the joy of Christmas really to be found in a bottle of wine, a present, or a purely material celebration? When the festivities are over, the gifts opened, and the tree taken down, what remains?

Our journey to spiritual maturity
December 14, 1981

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