Published in the Rains County Leader on December 15, 2015:
The third candle of the Advent Wreath is called the Candle of Joy. Much of the joy of the Christmas season is connected with children. There is nothing quite so joyful as the eyes of a child who has just caught a glimpse of the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning – nothing, that is, except the eyes of a parent or grandparent who is sharing Christmas with his or her child or grandchild for the first time. The joy of Christmas is multiplied many times when children come into the home.
Christian was a little over two months old when we took him to his first Christmas Eve service. He had no idea what was happening, but he was delighted with the twinkling lights and the flickering candles. He laughed and cooed when the choir began to sing, and his joy was contagious. A familiar experience seemed fresh and new when I looked at it through his eyes. Unfortunately, his father had to take him to the foyer where his enjoyment wouldn’t disturb the other worshippers.
Three decades later, I experienced the joy of sharing a singing Christmas tree performance with my grandson. Mattias was only a few weeks old, and he slept in my arms for the entire program. Although he wasn’t awake, he responded nonetheless. During the readings and dialogue, he would become restless and would whimper in his sleep, but as soon as the music began again, he settled back into a peaceful and what I imagined was a joyful sleep.
Now Christian and his family live 1,500 miles away, and we don’t have the joy of spending Christmas with them very often. Still, I share the excitement of friends who are preparing to spend the holiday with their grandchildren, and I share the joy of children at church as they learn the real reason for the joy of Christmas.
Wednesday night is caroling night at AWANA, the children’s Bible study program we host at Believers’ Baptist Church. One of the carols the children love best is “Joy to the World.” I’m not sure they realize that the words of this song come from an announcement an angel made to a group of shepherds two thousand years ago. It was a message about a child who brought joy to us all.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
May the hope, peace, and joy of the season be yours.