"Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
Christmas was a fairly forgotten holiday in London and most of England by the 1840s. Easter was celebrated. So was Boxing Day. But Christmas? Meh. So publishers didn’t see why anyone would want to read Charles Dickens’s latest book, A Christmas Carol. Turned out, everyone did. As we know, Dickens’s story was a hit, and still is. Because of that book, Dickens has been credited with saving Christmas and shaping the way we celebrate the holiday today. Not just in England, but in the U.S. too.
Of course, we all know the story of Mr. Scrooge and his “Bah, humbug!” It’s ultimately a tale of Scrooge’s redemption, but the Crachit family serve as a reminder of the joy of the season, no matter how miserly and harsh the world is around us.
Long before Dickens, Israel’s leader Nehemiah led the Jewish people back from exile in Babylon to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He also led them back to God and to the worship they had forgotten. When Nehemiah had God’s Law read to the people, they wept with remorse and regret. But as a representative of God’s work and voice, Nehemiah was a reminder of grace and restoration. His declaration was to celebrate and embrace the joy of the occasion, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
We know that the pace and activities of our holidays can bring a mixture of emotions that threatens to chase joy into the shadows. As we choose to cling to the joy of the Lord, let us embrace and experience the joy of the season in His hope, peace, and love in our lives.
What is squashing your Christmas joy? What can you say no to in order to say yes to joy this season?