Joy: Week Three – Day Four
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy, they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest. – Isaiah 9:3 (NRSV)
What’s your favorite Christmas food? Take a moment to really think about it. Close your eyes and picture the family table covered in casseroles and carbohydrates. There’s got to be one you put on your plate first. Without its savory goodness, Christmas would be incomplete. Or maybe you have a sweet tooth ready to devour some cookies, cakes, or pies. They don’t call it holiday weight for nothing.
This verse from Isaiah talks about the joy of Israel. He says that God’s people are rejoicing like it is harvest time, and there’s more food than they can imagine. They are gathered together as a community as they delight in the good things God has given them. As we celebrate in our homes and with our loved ones, it can be easy to let the focus of our joy be on the food or the presents. Our eyes will drift to the harvest on the table and under the tree, and we will forget the God who has made all our blessings possible.
This verse reminds me of the final scene in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. If you remember the story, all the Whos in Whoville were being quite obnoxious with their joyfulness, so the Grinch decided he would steal Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he went house to house and stole all the food and decorations and gifts, then waited until morning to hear them cry “boo-hoo.” But of course, they didn’t. They arose Christmas morning and gathered together to sing. Somehow or other Christmas came just the same.
James 1:17 reminds us that “…every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (NRSV) Nothing we have comes from our own hand, but only through the grace of God. We must not find joy in the gifts without first finding joy in the Giver. And, during Advent, we are awaiting the most important gift of all in Jesus Christ, from whom we reap a harvest of salvation.