How many of you out there are looking forward to the end of the fall semester, and Christmas break? How about that huge Pokemon news that we’re gonna get sometime this month? And not to mention the new Star Wars movie! No matter what news, geeky, relationship/social-wise, etc., it seems like there’s almost something to be happy or at least thankful for in this season (and you thought Thanksgiving was over, didn’t you? 😉 ).

While all of this is certainly does cause people to be very happy, happiness doesn’t replace true JOY. In fact, happiness is much more temporary than joy. Sure, it feels great when it’s around. But it usually doesn’t last, for one reason or another. Maybe you had a great day at work or school, came home in an awesome mood, then your spouse or parent walks up to you, and, struggling to compose themselves, breaks to you terrible news, wrenching that walking-on-cloud-nine feeling away, though unintentionally. You walk away from them, sulking a bit that your balloon of happiness has finally been popped. Or maybe you’re the kind to put on a brave face, but you’re hurting deep down. (I’ve tried both.)

In all the hustle and bustle of this season, people sometimes focus too much on happiness and getting things done; this can create unintentional stress, not to mention life still goes on, even while you’re pursuing happiness, for yourself and for others. People get hurt. Arguments ensue. Accidents happen. Stress mounts.

In all the chaos, people forget WHY Christmas is about JOY, not happiness. Why it’s about GIVING, not GETTING. Why it’s about being WITH others, as Christ is WITH us (literally, Emmanuel means, “God with us”) , instead of JUST doing things FOR them. And why Christmas starts with CHRIST.

In short, even despite all the overload of stress, you can still have genuine, heartfelt JOY through it all.

In our Sunday School, or in our Junior Church to be more precise, we kids grow up singing a little song called, “J.O.Y.”: “J.O.Y. …. J.O.Y. …. Christmas surely means/ Jesus first, and Yourself last, and Others in between,” (repeat 2x’s, to the tune of “Jingle Bells”). But you get the message. Christmas is all about God’s Son, and the JOY and gift that HE came to give US! To be with us, personally. The destroyed bridge between God and Humankind was about to be rebuilt.

So, as you look around during the shopping stress, ask yourself, “Am I putting the REASON for the season first, so I can have true joy, not just happiness, in being with my loved ones and with God?”

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