All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve were in the garden experiencing true joy. Everything was perfect- they even walked with God! Once they sinned, mankind’s relationship with God was broken and joy was lost.
For Mary and Joseph, it would be understandable if joy was the furthest attitude from their hearts. Dreams for their future probably didn’t include an unplanned baby so early in their relationship, taking a 90 mile trip for the census while Mary was 9 months pregnant, or sleeping in a noisy, smelly barn because there wasn’t room anywhere else.
But the angel in Luke tells us that on that day, Jesus’ birth brought great joy to all people. By accepting Jesus’ death for our sins, our relationship with God is restored and we can have true joy again. Like Mary and Joseph, even when things don’t seem to go right, we can choose to have joy because of Jesus, knowing that God can be glorified no matter our circumstances.
True joy is only found in Jesus
- Where does true joy come from?
- In the past, where have you looked for joy and what was the result?
- When is it hardest to choose to be joyful?
- How can you remember to have joy each day, no matter what?
- Think about people you know that may be spending the holiday alone and invite them to join you for Christmas dinner, make a card for them or a homemade gift!
- Make some hot chocolate and/or cookies and deliver to those who work on Christmas Day (emergency services - police, fire, hospital, etc.)
- Go caroling at a nursing home. Spend some time with the residents and read them the Christmas story from the Bible. Pray that God gives you a chance to share your faith!
- Write thank you cards for those who gave you gifts or did something kind for you this Christmas season. End with your favorite verse or a verse about your gratitude for them (i.e., 1 Cor. 1:4).
JOY SALT DOUGH
- Cut J-O-Y out of salt dough (Leave a hole for ribbon). Let it dry in a 200 degree oven and then paint. Hang it on your tree next year as a reminder to have joy!
- 1 Cup Salt; 2 Cups Flour; 3/4 Cup warm water
- Mix & Knead. Roll out and Cut.
- Share stories or journal about how God has worked this past year.