Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. –Psalm 51:11-12
Activity: Sing-a-long. Pick a happy song that your family enjoys singing. Maybe it is a Christmas carol, a VBS song, or something from a Disney movie. Sing it together. If you are really feeling joyful, dance along. Enjoy a moment celebrating God’s gifts of music and singing.
Joy is a wonderful emotion. We feel joy when we spend time with family, when we get to see our favorite movie, or when someone does something special for us. You might be surprised to find out that joy is different than plain-old happiness. The difference seems to be that happiness is a now feeling where joy is closely linked with peace. Feeling joyful means that you feel safe and loved, and that the world seems to be a good place.
The opposite of joy just might be danger. Maybe you have felt the knot-in-your-stomach feeling you get when you hear tornado sirens on a stormy evening. Or maybe the opposite of joy is heartache, perhaps you have felt the emptiness of a lost pet or saying goodbye to a family member that you don’t know if you will ever see again. Whatever the opposite of joy is, we don’t want it.
Psalm 51 cries to God, “Cast me not away from your presence.” These words remind us that being close to God, being close to His saving hand, gives us joy. Because God is the only one who can save us and take care of us.
Being close to God brings joy. This is why baby-in-the-belly John-the-Baptist leaps for joy when his mother meets Mary who had Jesus in her belly (Lk 1:44). This is why the shepherds had to go find the Baby Jesus, to see this “Good news of great joy that will be for all people, (Lk 2:10).” This is why the wisemen “Rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, (Mt 2:10)” when they met the Newborn King.
On Christmas, God gave the world the gift of joy. He showed His love by sending the Rescuer, who would save the whole world. Because of Jesus we know that we are saved from our sin, and safe in His care. We see that we are not forgotten but loved by the Creator of the world. And we rejoice that we have been given the gift of life forever with God.
PRAYER: Dear God, Thank you for the gift of joy, born to the world on Christmas. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.