What Are you Joyfully Celebrating? Part Three

Recently my husband and I have hosted some driveway firepit nights. 

The most recent time was on Thanksgiving evening. We prepared a traditional thanksgiving meal but shared it around a driveway firepit instead of a formal table setting. It was a relaxing and simple time of joyful celebration with our friends who joined us.

One of our neighbors even came over to join in the fun for a bit.

Our conversations flowed easily as we enjoyed the warmth of the flames, the succor of the savory foods, and the fellowship in a laid-back setting.

How does this relate to this series of considering what we are joyfully celebrating this holiday season?

Consider verse three of the carol Joy to the World:

No more let sins and sorrows grow
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

Verse three, Joy to the World

Starting with Thanksgiving weekend through January 1st, most of us host or are attending festive gatherings.

Why do we do this?

Often the thanksgiving weekend is a time of sharing the season’s provision of a bountiful harvest. 

The weeks that follow, at least in Christian circles, include the advent season of preparing for the celebration of the gift of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

Consider this description of the purpose of the advent wreath:

In most traditions, the lighting of the four candles (or multiple candles) is meant to be done as a family and will often be used to reflect on the hope, faith, joy, peace, light, and purity that came into the world with the gift of the Messiah. Families will typically light the candle together, often encouraging children to participate in the celebration. Many modern churches light an Advent candle during Sunday services to prepare for Christmas as a church family. 

Regardless of specific Advent traditions and differences in how it is celebrated across cultures and countries, Advent is a time for all believers and families to commemorate the arrival of the Messiah, prepare for his second coming, and celebrate the joy of Christmas together. 


In addition, many of us, Christian or not, begin giving gifts to one another throughout these weeks of advent and often reserve special gifts for those we will gather with on Christmas eve or day, whether family or close friends.

To gain some perspective on why we are celebrating, take a moment to review what God said after Adam and Eve sinned.

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Gen 3:17-21 ESV)

God cursed the ground to bear thorns and thistles, making growing food painful and exhausting because of Adam and Eve’s sin. Verse three of Joy to the World is referring to this curse.

Did you notice the mercy offered by God in the Genesis passage above? He made Adam and Eve garments to wear. He also did not immediately slay them, although He had that right since they had disobeyed His one prohibitive command.

Fast forward to review a prophetic passage from Isaiah:

2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. 
3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 
4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isa 9:2-6 ESV)

This passage is speaking of our Christian faith’s Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is whom we are celebrating on Christmas eve and day and throughout all our festivities of feasting and sharing of gifts with each other.

Now consider a description of what this Messiah, Jesus Christ, accomplished for us from the testimony of Paul:

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:10-14 ESV)

Describe in your own words how our celebration of a bountiful harvest at Thanksgiving, followed by the Christian Advent wreath tradition and other festivities, supports verse three of Joy to the World.

As you take part in the various gatherings, whether as simple as a driveway firepit night or as elaborate as a formal Christmas ball, where is your focus? Why?

Our night with our friends, some of whom were meeting for the first time, was a time to relax and share not only some yummy food and laughter but also our joy of Christian fellowship. 

This joy we were sharing was attractive enough to draw in a neighbor we are still getting to know. Keeping in mind that at this stage, the point is not to convert our neighbor if they are not a Christian. Rather, it is to show our love, mercy, kindness, etc. that stems from the joy we celebrate as Christians. If the Lord prompts our neighbor to ask us where our joy stems from, then we will share, but first, we simply want to share our lives with them lovingly. 

What are you joyfully celebrating this week? 

Are you celebrating this season in a way that is attractive to your neighbors? Why or why not?

What things do you do during this season that communicate joyful celebration to those around you? Share in the comments below!


Barbara Lynn


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