A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Noteworthy Mommy! My family of three had a wonderful Advent season with beautiful concerts, lavish gatherings, meaningful church services and many wonderful memories made with family and friends. I celebrated my 50th birthday on Christmas Day (more about that in another post) and as I look back on the weeks leading up to our Savior’s birth, I am greeted with nothing but warm, happy memories.
But my family of three has had a rough start to the new year and as I sit here writing this greatly overdo message, I’m recovering from COVID and the overwhelming feeling of joy I felt during that time has faded. When I pass by our tired Christmas tree and see other decorations still decking our halls (I’ve been too exhausted to take them down), the once festive décor has lost its magical glow and now stands sadly forgotten in the shadows; eagerly waiting to be attended to, packed up and forgotten until next year.
Then I am taken back to some of those wonderful memories and am reminded how everywhere I looked throughout the season of Advent and during the season of Christmas, I saw or heard the word JOY. Not unusual since JOY is the word assigned to the third week in Advent and the song “Joy to the World” is in the top ten most beloved Christmas carols of all time. Or perhaps, after living in a COVID world for two years, we are all simply looking for some JOY.
And thanks to YouTube (click on the highlighted links below) I listened once again to the sermons my pastor gave regarding JOY on the third Sunday of Advent and again on Christmas Eve. I can hear Pastor Rouland say, “Joy is not just a synonym for happiness because happiness is fleeting, something that happens to us or wells up inside of us.” Like the feeling I get when I think of the fun I had celebrating with friends and family, the excitement I have playing music and singing in my church choir or the thrill of giving and receiving Christmas gifts this year. The feelings are real but fleeting, as the sins of this world bring us from highs to lows like a roller coaster of emotion. That is not joy. For JOY is different, a much deeper thing. Pastor Rouland continues, “JOY comes where faith, and difficulty and life connect. JOY is realizing that the struggle of following God in this life is worth it. That’s JOY that comes from Christ to you.”
So as I write this message I am certainly not as happy as I was in those memories, a mere month ago. My house is a mess, I’m not feeling 100% and my mini me is driving me crazy as she is literally bouncing off the walls but guess what…I have JOY. Pastor Rouland reminded me that JOY is not just the culmination of what is happening to me or how I feel. I have JOY because I know what Jesus has done for me. I have JOY knowing that He died for me and I have JOY because one day I will experience unimaginable, everlasting JOY in Heaven with Him. And because of that JOY I also have thanksgiving. I am thankful for God and all He has given me, the good and the bad. For the deep days make me stronger and help me see the tiny glimmers of light that come in the form of hope, peace, joy, and love. And through this dark time of being sick and helping my husband recover from surgery, there are waves of light that come in the form of friends and family who are praying, bringing food, and sending daily texts. And all of this light is created by God. For He has placed these beautiful people in my life. He is the light of the world, the center of my world, and He is JOY.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice! PHILIPPIANS 4:4
Even though this message is late, I hope you take the time to listen. My daughter’s talented teacher, Amy Bernhardt, gives the children’s message in both services and if you watch the entire Christmas Eve service you will see and hear me singing in the treble choir. “Mary Did You Know,” one of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs, is the selection my choir sings during communion.