I love the Youtube video of the N64 Kids. The brother and sister are overflowing with joy as they received an N64 for Christmas. They rejoiced over this gift. If you have ever given a gift, this is one of the hopes we have in giving the gift- bringing happiness. But often the joy we experience on Christmas can be short lived. How many of your children have broken a toy later on Christmas day? Or we, as parents, purchased a desired gift, see a response of joy or happiness, only to find that gift buried under a bed weeks later?
When we find our sense of happiness or joy in a person or thing of the world, it is a fleeting experience. The scriptures tell us time and time again (and so does experience) that the things of this world just do not last. While a person or a thing may provide us joy or happiness today- what happens when our circumstances change?
Joy, when it is rooted in Christ, remains steadfast. This is why the mature Christian who’s joy is in Jesus her Lord and Savior can go through great trials and still feel joy. This is why the person with a chronic illness can still praise God for the blessings that are in his life. That is why Mary, when told that she would conceive a child thus turning her entire world upside down can say, “May it be to me as you have said.” The joyful Christian finds their hope in the faithfulness of God who is active in their lives.
The Christmas story invites us to consider whether we will be a joy taker or a joy giver.
Let’s be honest, there are people in our lives (and this person could be me) who suck the joy out of every experience- and even our relationship with God. These people are like Debbie Downer from the Saturday Night Live Skit- there is a constant, Wan-wan-waaahhhh with the proclamations of doom and gloom. If we are constantly complaining about life, about our church then why would anyone want to experience what is happening here? If we complain all the time, if we take the joy out of life, why would anyone want to be a Christian if it means complaining all the time?
Instead, we are to be joy-givers to the people around us. In the Christmas story, the song of the angels invited the shepherds to go to Bethlehem to see for themselves this miracle of God. They were invited to share the joy of this Good News for themselves. When they had found Mary, Joseph, and the baby
“They spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them…the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
The Shepherds were filled with joy about what they had seen and heard and had to go and tell their neighbors what they had experienced. As the shepherds were invited to share the joy of this Good News, we have the same invitation- to be a joy giver rather than a joy taker.
When we are joy-givers, we invite those around us to see and investigate the reason for our joy. When we are joy-givers, we are able to point to the reason of our joy and to explain why we can be filled with joy even when life seems to be filled with darkness and despair. As joy-givers, we get to share the hope that we have that God is faithful and is active in my life and yours because God was revealed through a barren older woman, a teenaged girl, and lowly shepherds. God hears our cries and we can find joy and peace in knowing that. As joy-givers, we can provide the antidote to a world where fear, hatred, and depression are the norm.
We are invited to be a joy-giver this Christmas. With less than two weeks until Christmas, I want to challenge you to refuse to steal anyone’s joy. Do everything you can to refrain from complaining and to find joy in the simplicity of our presence together and in the love of God through Jesus.
 Luke 2:17-18, 20, NIV.