Can you believe that it’s already the third week of Advent, and that December is over halfway gone? It feels like this point in the Christmas season ushers in the chaos of finishing the shopping and wrapping, endless parties and recitals, and the bizarre combination of urgency to slow down and simply enjoy the season before it’s gone. While Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year, the business and chaos can prevent us from stopping and experiencing the true joy of the season. This third week of Advent focuses on the joy of salvation and the joy of the gospel, the real reason we can stop and celebrate!
We’ve all heard and been told that true joy differs from happiness because it is rooted in something deeper than a fleeting moment can offer. Joy outlasts circumstances and events in our lives, and when rooted in Jesus, will not waiver. In this third week of Advent, I am praying for a celebration of joy, because we have received the best news and the best gift anyone can receive.
So this week, I want to issue you a challenge. Below is the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, the only reason we can live a life of joy. I just want to challenge you to read it, to meditate on it, and thank the Lord for this gift of joy in the form of a baby! Send it to a loved one, share it with a stranger at work, read it with your family. Let's spend this next week, despite the business, the chaos, and the stress of making Christmas happen, truly celebrating the birth of our Savior!
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes 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 heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
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