Joy to the World; the Lord is come! When we think about Christmas and the holidays we imagine a time of wonder, amazement, nostalgia and traditions. However, we too often get sidelined by stress, shopping, bills, anxiety and disappointment. In the movie Christmas Vacation Clark Griswold envisions “a good old-fashioned Christmas” that begins by attempting to cut down the perfect tree. As the relatives gather, the unmet expectations mount. The lights don’t work, there’s a squirrel in the tree, uninvited relatives arrive and Clark’s greatly anticipated Christmas bonus vaporizes. Clark says “How could things get any worse? We’re at the threshold of hell?” It wasn’t the “good old-fashioned Christmas” he anticipated. Things will go wrong, people will fall short of our expectations, disappointment is inevitable. Being in the Christmas season and being in the Christmas spirit are two different things. We are all in the Christmas season, but we can only experience the Christmas spirit when we allow joy to pervade our hearts and melt away our disappointments. It can happen!

Lam 3:22-23; Mt 2:10-11, 16; Lk 1:29, 44, 2:13-14, 17-18, 19-20, 38, 15:10; Js 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (Js 1:2-3) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (La 3:22-23)

We often let our circumstances dictate our mood which leads many of us on a rollercoaster of moodiness. Every aspect of our lives is affected by our mood; our mood is even an important part of our spiritual life. However, a good mood does not indicate that God is close and a bad mood does not indicate that He’s farther away. But our mood should reflect the joy of knowing Christ, so it seems that God cares about our moods. We’ve been redeemed by Jesus, but if our moods are going to be redeemed we need to rethink joy. Life is not about always doing the things that put me in a good mood. It’s about being who God has called me to be. When you look at the Christmas story, the news of Jesus’ birth brought joy to the angels, the shepherds and the wisemen. If Jesus lives in your heart, you have joy, but are you experiencing it? There are some things you can do to help your mood and enhance your joy. When you wake each morning start by asking God to set your mood and help you have a positive attitude. Cultivate gratitude. Don’t take for granted the new day of life God has given you. Each breath is a gift from God. Be thankful for all your blessings. Worship Jesus even in the midst of problems. Mary and Joseph certainly had problems to face. I’m sure the shepherds and wisemen had problems; yet, those things did not keep them from seeking and worshiping the newborn King. James writes to “consider it joy” when you face problems. You don’t need to be thankful for the problem, but be thankful for what God is going to do in and through you in the midst of your problem. Spread the good news. Those who encountered the baby Jesus told others the news of his birth. A Savior is born! When your life is touched by Jesus Christ, you must tell others what God has done for you. Joy can be found!

How do you feel about the Christmas season? Do you have high expectations, low expectations, or no expectations? Why? What is your greatest joy during Christmas? What is your greatest stress? Are you generally a joy-filled person? How would your friends and family describe you? Who is the most joyful person you know? Why are they joyful? How much does circumstance dictate your mood? What “thing” can happen that turns your good mood to bad in a moment? What can turn your bad mood to good in a moment? What’s the difference between joy and happiness? What can you starting doing to tap into more joy?

Spend time reflecting on what Christ has done for you. Express your thankfulness to Him and to others for your blessings. Put yourself in check when you sense a bad mood coming on and claim joy.

Lord, help me to tap into the joy of Jesus’ birth and the salvation that is mine through Him. May I allow joy to permeate my heart, mind and soul so that I live with an attitude of joy and share with others what Christ has done for me. Thank you for all I have to be joyful about, In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.