The Christmas tree was lit, the tinsel was glistening, the presents were piled up under the tree. You got up early Christmas morning before everyone else was up and, oh so carefully, examining one particular present with your name on it. Although you were too afraid to unwrap it before you were supposed to, you were sure you knew what it was. It was justthe right size and justthe right weight for what you had been dreaming of getting for Christmas. As the presents were unwrapped you kept that one special one to the very end, expectation and excitement growing with each round.
Finally, the time came to open your gift… and it WASN’T what you thought it was! You tried to keep a positive look on your face, but in your heart the disappointment was made that much worse by the buildup of assumptions and expectations you had set for yourself.
Expectation versus reality. We all struggle with it. One survey by the American Psychological Association reported that while the majority of the people in the survey reported feelings of happiness, love, and high spirits over the holidays, those emotions were often accompanied by feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, and sadness. During the holidays our expectations for the “glad tidings” of joy, peace, and happiness are often crushed by the “bad tidings” of lack of time and money, pressures, and broken family relationships.
This Sunday we’ll sing more of our favorite Christmas carols, but more importantly, we look at why Christians can sing with joy any time of the year and under any circumstances. It’s not just a seasonal sentiment of warmth and good feelings, but an objective and lasting confidence that weathers any set of circumstances.
Remember to invite a friend to come with you to church and to bring your elementary aged kids with you into the service.
P.S. We’ll be starting our new Sunday morning series, “A Life of Joy” through the book of Philippians starting in January!