Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Season’s greetings. So many good wishes, but do we really know what we’re saying? (Or not saying?) ” Season’s greetings” is about as bland a salutation as we could ever receive. What doe is mean? ” Hello, in the middle of winter!”?

“Happy holidays!”, comes a little closer to having some kind of heartfelt meaning.Originally, the wish was for “Happy holy days.” those days set aside specifically for worshiping God. Sometime in the sixteenth century, the term started referring to any day off from work that was devoted to rest and recreation. The word became holiday, and now the phrase seems to mean “Enjoy this time of year-whatever you’re celebrating!”

Then there’s the shorthand “Merry X-mas,” which annoys people who see this as crossing Christ out of Christmas. But did you know that X is the first letter–chi ( pronounced “kie”)– of the Greek word Christos, meaning Anointed One, or Messiah? X-mas is simply an abbreviation for Christmas. ( By the way, have you ever noticed how we often use the letter X to mean “cross,” as in Railroad X-ing?) Even so, I think it is a good idea to say-or write-the wonderful name of Jesus Christ whenever we can!

But “Merry Christmas!” is still the definitive greeting. Merry, a word we don’t hear often today, means “pleasant” or “joyful.” It’s a lot like the word happy, but merry has a twinkle in it eye. The word Christmas comes form the Old English Cristes Maesse, meaning the feast or mass of Christ. At such a worship service or mass, people take bread and wine and celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Doesn’t the seem a little strange? Perhaps out of place? Why would we remember the death of our Lord Jesus on His birthday celebration? And how can we go on exchanging cards and basically say, “Joyfully remember the crucifixion of Jesus!”?

It really pretty simple. Without the cross, Christ couldn’t defeat death. And without His resurrection, there wouldn’t be a reason to celebrate. Anything. Ever. With that in mind, this season let’s say loudly and often, “Merry Christmas!”

Now that you have a bit more background information on the Origins of Christmas, what is a celebration of any sort without “joy” but especially a celebration and worship of “Christ” the “Anointed One!”? I offer you this scriptural focal point on the fruit of the spirit…. “Joy” to help you to build a meaningful scared space in your heart, soul and mind to the one we are celebrating this season. Christmas is empty without HIS boundless well of joy springing forth from HIS spirit into yours!

(Hebrew)-OR OLAM (English)-EVERLASTING LIGHT

Reflecting HIS perfect light and joy

Jennifer

JOY

1.What thoughts and images come to mind when you think of the word joy?

2.Decide together what you believe is the best definition for the word joy. Is it best described as an emotion, an attitude, a decision, an instinct, or a consequence?

3.Discuss how the following verses relate to joy. Take a fresh look at each passage, searching especially for (a) God’s commands and standards to keep, (b) someone’s example to learn from, (c) a promise from God to believe, (d) a warning to heed, or (e) a challenge to face.

•   1 Samuel 2:1
•   Nehemiah 8:9-12
•   Psalms 68:1-3
•   Ecclesiastes 2:1-11; 3:12
•   Isaiah 35
•   Matthew 5:4
•   Luke 1:46-49; 15:3-10
•   John 16:22
•   Acts 3:6-10
•   Philippians 4:4
•   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
•   1 Peter 1:6-9

4.What vital, fundamental principles can you see in these passages (principles which are consistent with other Scriptures you know)?

5.Finally, answer these questions, especially in light of what you’ve observed in the passages above: (a) What does God want me to understand most about Himself? (b) What does God want me to understand most about others? (c) What does God want me to understand most about myself? And in light of all this, what would He have me do?

Resources:The Adventure of Christmas, by Lisa Whelchel and (From The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament, © 1993 by Questar Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.)_

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