December 28, 2023
Unwrapping the Gift of Joy – Christmas Eve Service
Listen to the Christmas Eve sermon titled “Unwrapping the Gift of Joy” found in Matthew 2:1-12.
Christmas, a time of year beloved by many, symbolizes more than just festive decorations and the exchange of gifts. It represents a deeper, more spiritual joy, the kind that has been celebrated for centuries. Pastor Eric initiated the sermon with an anecdote about three sons who, despite their success and intention to please, discovered that sometimes the simplest gifts, like a mother’s happiness, are the most profound.
Pastor Eric asked a fundamental question: What is joy? Contrasting it with happiness, which is often fleeting and circumstantial, he described joy as a steadfast, resilient force that persists through trials and darkness, much like the joy the Magi felt upon finding Jesus. This joy, as D.L. Moody suggests,
flows right on through trouble.
It’s not a mere emotion but a state of being that flourishes irrespective of our external circumstances.The heart of the sermon delved into Matthew 2:1-12, recounting the journey of the Magi. Their quest, fraught with obstacles and uncertainties, symbolizes our own spiritual quests. Despite the perils and the long, arduous journey, the Magi’s joy was “overjoyed” upon finding Jesus. This profound joy was not because their journey was easy, but because it was meaningful. Their story illustrates that true joy comes from purpose and fulfillment, not ease and comfort.
In a world where joy is often equated with material success, Pastor Eric challenged the congregation to rethink their understanding. He shared observations from third-world countries, where despite lacking basic amenities, people exhibit a joy that many in affluent societies lack. This paradox highlights that joy isn’t a byproduct of material wealth but of spiritual richness.
In Nehemiah 8:10, we read that:
The joy of the Lord is our strength.
This joy is a divine gift that empowers, sustains, and nourishes. It’s the kind of joy that allows us to persevere, to rebuild from ruins, and to maintain hope in the darkest of times. It’s not just an emotion but a source of spiritual strength. Pastor Eric then emphasized that true joy is inherently tied to our relationship with Christ. It’s not just about knowing of Jesus but about knowing Jesus. This personal, intimate relationship transforms our understanding of joy, making it more than just a fleeting feeling. It becomes a constant, a guiding light in our lives, much like the star that guided the Magi.True joy manifests in our actions and worship. It’s not passive but active. Pastor Eric described how joy leads to generosity, service, and a deep, heartfelt worship that goes beyond songs and rituals. It’s about living a life that’s in tune with God’s purpose, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, and finding joy in serving and loving others.
As the sermon drew to a close, Pastor Eric encouraged the congregation to ‘unwrap’ their gift of joy this Christmas. He reminded everyone that joy is not just for the festive season but for all seasons. It’s a gift given to us on the first Christmas, a reminder of the joy that Christ’s birth brought into the world. It’s up to us to open this gift, embrace it, and share it.
To watch the sermon, please click here: