Isaiah 12 CEB
We may give up on God, but God will never give up on us. We may say 'no,' but God keeps pushing us in the right direction... No matter how much we ignore, deny, loathe or crucify our God, God will always try to relate to us. We can only taste the fruits of our labor because of that abundant grace. In that we should find joy.
Where does joy live?
As a child I always understood Christmas Joy in relation to presents. The more presents I had under the tree, the more joy I was going to experience on Christmas day. I ultimately realized I was wrong. Even the few years I went home with a bag full of stuff, I never found my joy under the tree.
I believe to understand Christmas joy we must turn first to the bible. No, I am not going to immediately talk bout the birth of Jesus, and I am not talking directly about the Isaiah passage. I want to go all the way back to Genesis, with the story of Abraham and Issac.(I am linking to my Abraham and Issac sermon here.) Abraham was about to sacrifice or kill his son, the future of the people of Israel, as an offering to God when an angel tells him to stop. Instead, there was a ram caught in a thicket. The angel tells Abraham to use that for sacrifice instead of his son. Abraham named the mountain where all this took place, "God will provide." Thinking about today, what does that mean? Does God provide abundantly, or just enough? The answer lies in what God is providing.
If God is providing for our earthly needs it is always just enough. A ram for sacrifice was just enough. Manna from heaven was just enough. The widow's jar that fed her son, a prophet and herself through famine was just enough. Any more could have spoiled the gift or them.
If God is providing for our spiritual needs it is always in abundance. By God we are loved abundantly. We may give up on God, but God will never give up on us. We may say 'no,' but God keeps pushing us in the right direction. It is in abundant love we should find our Christmas Joy. It is Christmas Joy I pull from Isaiah 12:1. I hear it because God gives abundantly to the Israelites- abundant grace; abundant love. Because of that there is abundant joy which should erupt on our end from this verse.
See, we get caught up with the 'stuff' of Christmas, as if objects had the power to bring us joy. If that were true God would always give of our physical need in abundance. But, all that would do is spoil the gift or us. That is why things like manna come to us as just enough.
Like I said before, the joy I felt at Christmas wasn't found under the tree, but around it. It was God's abundant love personified through my family and friends that brought the true joy of Christmas home.
Come to think about it, we spend Christmas celebrating the birth of a savior, God made flesh, and we celebrate in joy. Why? Because the birth of Jesus was an act of abundant love. That abundant love was made real through the creation of a family: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. No matter how much we ignore, deny, loathe or crucify our God, God will always try to relate to us. We can only taste the fruits of our labor because of that abundant grace. In that we should find joy.