Merry Christ­mas And May God Bless You

McDonald County Press - - CHURCH - By Kevin Wil­son KEVIN WIL­SON IS A FOR­MER STATE REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIVE WHO WAS BORN IN GOOD­MAN AND NOW LIVES IN NEOSHO. OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR.

Ev­ery year I look for­ward to the Neosho Lay­men’s League pre-Christ­mas ser­vices. For over seven decades, the men of Neosho have met at lo­cal churches for a week of cel­e­bra­tion in an­tic­i­pa­tion of Christ­mas Day. This year the ser­vices were held at Sec­ond Bap­tist Church, and the men were great hosts and the church was packed each morn­ing.

While I look for­ward to the ser­vices, it is also a very long and tir­ing week. Wak­ing up at 5 a.m. to make it to the fel­low­ship at 6 a.m. with the ser­vice fol­low­ing is not get­ting any eas­ier on this six-decade-old body. But, at the end of the week, it is worth all the sleepy evenings try­ing to stay awake.

I was in­tro­duced to the Lay­men’s League ser­vices by Jim Gage in 1985. Jim was a great man and one I looked up to with ad­mi­ra­tion. Jim didn’t re­ally in­vite me to the ser­vices, he just more or less told me that he would see me there that year and that was that — I was in at­ten­dance and, over the years, have missed very few days. In 1989, I even had the priv­i­lege of be­ing in­vited to be one of the speak­ers.

As I looked around the gath­ered men this year, it made me proud to live in such an amaz­ing com­mu­nity. In at­ten­dance were the men that men­tored me as a young man and that I look to even to­day as role mod­els for serv­ing each other.

Of course, we al­ways sing Christ­mas hymns like “Joy to the World,” which started me think­ing. At this time of year, peo­ple like to talk about peace on earth and good­will to all men. But, in re­al­ity, most peo­ple don’t re­ally mean it. They think they do but then they don’t put ac­tion be­hind the words and live dif­fer­ently most of the rest of the year.

And what about “joy to the world?” Of course, in the con­text of the song it means the joy that we have be­cause of Christ’s birth but let’s take this a lit­tle dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

How many of us are truly joy­ous any time of the year? Do we ever truly find joy or is it some­thing that just seems to be right out of reach of our ea­ger minds? And what is joy in the first place?

In the United States, we have let the ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies con­vince us that joy comes from the new­est gad­get or the big­gest toy (and I’m talk­ing about grownup type toys like cars and tele­vi­sions). If we just have that next great thing, then surely we will be happy and ex­pe­ri­ence joy in life. Here’s the kicker — the pur­suit of ma­te­rial things has never led to hap­pi­ness or joy.

I know, you’re say­ing, “Let me win the big Lotto jack­pot and I’ll see for my­self if money can buy hap­pi­ness.”

Guess what! In case you don’t know the an­swer, it is “no it won’t.”

You might be con­tent with more ma­te­rial things sur­round­ing you, but they will never bring you the joy that you seek.

Take a look at the news and how many screwed-up rich peo­ple you see in this world — peo­ple you think have ev­ery­thing go­ing for them but they just can’t be happy. I’m not say­ing rich peo­ple can’t be happy but, if they are, then the hap­pi­ness and joy doesn’t come from what they own.

On my two trips to Africa, I wit­nessed peo­ple who were be­yond poor in the eyes of the Western World, but yet I saw so much joy and hap­pi­ness. They found joy in life and not the things of life.

I am no dif­fer­ent from any of you. I some­times want more and like the se­cu­rity of my “things.” But, com­fort and se­cu­rity is not joy. It might bring a cer­tain amount of con­tent­ment, but joy is much dif­fer­ent. And, just like you, I am guilty in this false sense of joy.

The song “Joy to the World” brings us our an­swer to what joy is. Know­ing that Christ is in con­trol re­gard­less of how out of con­trol this world be­comes brings us the joy that we seek so fer­vently. Know­ing that God is al­ways with us — even in the depths of our per­sonal de­spair — brings us joy. Know­ing that our Sav­ior was born and then died for us brings us joy.

In this sea­son of cel­e­bra­tion, do not turn to ma­te­rial things to bring you joy. Rest well know­ing that we have a God that loves us so much that He sent his Son to re­deem us and save us and ex­pe­ri­ence true joy.

If you don’t have a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with Je­sus, I can’t think of a bet­ter time than Christ­mas to de­velop that re­la­tion­ship and let Him bring you joy. Merry Christ­mas and May God Bless you in the com­ing year!

“The song ‘Joy to the World’ brings us our an­swer to what joy is. Know­ing that Christ is in con­trol re­gard­less of how out of con­trol this world be­comes brings us the joy that we seek so fer­vently. Know­ing that God is al­ways with us — even in the depths of our per­sonal de­spair — brings us joy. Know­ing that our Sav­ior was born and then died for us brings us joy.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.