With the Christmas season in full swing, I want to share with you a tradition that my husband and I started when we were engaged to be married. Every year we sit together to read the story of Jesus’ birth before Christmas Day arrives. Of the four Gospels, we prefer Matthew, so we usually read Matthew 1:18-2:23.
Last year, during this time, I remember us reading of Jesus’ birth in Matthew when something I had read many times before jumped off the page at me: the word overjoyed. Have you ever watched a movie you’ve already seen, only to notice something you missed before? Or, read your favorite book again and picked up on something new? If so, imagine my excitement of reading the familiar story of Jesus’ birth and seeing the word joy woven throughout this story.
I am sure you can gather by the name of my blog that the word joy is very special to me. It is my middle name. I love hearing my mom tell me about how she came to choose Joy as my middle name. She was lying on the couch looking through a baby name book when she stumbled upon it. She said it aloud over and over to herself to hear how it sounded with my first and last name. She then shared it with my dad, of course he loved it too, and the rest is history!
Since my middle name is Joy, I grew up seeing it all over during the Christmas season; on ornaments, Christmas cards, and much more. While the meaning of joy is special to me all year long, it takes on a truly special meaning during the Christmas season.
Many people use the word joy as synonymous to happiness. Joy is so much more than that. Happiness is being content with our life circumstances. Joy is beyond happiness, it is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). What does that mean? The fruits of the Spirit are those traits that are produced within us by the Holy Spirit when we invite it into our hearts. If we know God, we are joyful because He is joyful. We are joyful when we know Him, accept Him, love Him, and strive to be like Him.
All of this makes perfect sense when you think back to the story of Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph were set to be married when Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. An angel appeared to Joseph and told him they were to name him Jesus because he will save his people; and to call him Immanuel which means “God with us”. Then, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, during the time of King Herod. King Herod sent the Magi to search for Jesus and report back to him so he could go worship Jesus. King Herod was lying, he did not want to worship Jesus; he wanted to kill Him. While the Magi went in search for Jesus they found His star in the east. They continued to travel until the star stopped over where Jesus was. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”-Matthew 2:10-11. The Magi were overcome with joy when they saw baby Jesus. They had come to know Him, accept Him, love Him, and Honor him.
It is my hope and prayer that each of you will experience joy this Christmas season as you invite Jesus and his love for you into your heart. He truly is the real reason for this Christmas season!