“How great our joy! Great our joy!
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!
Praise we the Lord in heav’n on high!”

Words from a Christmas carol that is often sung during the Christmas season….and while there IS great joy for all of mankind, there is also great sorrow for many as well. Our society has brainwashed many of us into believing that in order for there to be GREAT joy at this time of year, you must…buy the perfect gift…..wear the perfect clothes…..go to church…..fix the perfect dinner….do EVERYTHING that there is to celebrate this holy day.

But there is a dark side to this tale. Many families just can’t achieve the aforesaid kind of celebration, and are inundated with the guilt of failure to do so. Single people who are far away from home, and long for that kind of family life, grieve at what is for them, the loneliest time of year.

But it gets worse. There are wives…who have just heard the words “hospice care” for their terminally ill husbands. Daughters who have lost their mothers on this day.  Granddaughters who have lost beloved Grandmothers. Families who have no roof over their heads. Single parents who would give anything to have a helper get them through this season. For so many people, it is difficult to see the “joy” of this season.

And yet in the midst of our sorrow….rides a young pregnant woman. Who, after trying to explain to her family that she was pregnant by God (of all people), rides into a bustling city, so close to her time, and finds there is no place for her and her promised husband to stay.  The innkeeper allows them to stay in the place where his animals stay. It’s dark. It’s dirty. It smells bad.  And in that place, she goes into labor. Her first child. She must be scared, and she has no one but Joseph to help her. And in THAT place….she gives birth to a beautiful baby boy….who will someday die a horrible death on a cross. And in THAT place….she sees the  perfection in what she has.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”–Luke 2:8-14

So what am I saying? Celebrate with joy anyway, but don’t forget those who are less fortunate and who are afraid. Help them when and where you can. Offer them comfort.  Be kind to one another, for you don’t know what they are fighting against. Focus not on creating the PERFECT holiday, but seeing the perfection in the holiday you have. Because there is GREAT JOY….in even the smallest of bundles…