Joy to the world the Lord has come!
One of the things I love about the Christmas story is how real it is. The government of the day in Israel was an occupying Roman force. The ruler of the Roman Empire had just thrown everyone’s life up in the air by forcing them to go to their home town for a census so they could pay more taxes. Some things just never change.
For Joseph and Mary the birth of Jesus was a difficult time. It could not have been an easy thing for Mary travelling a long distance on the back of a donkey all the while nearing the end of her pregnancy. Upon arriving in the small town of Bethlehem Joseph must have wondered how he was going to find some place for Mary to give birth. A tough spot to be in.
And yet we connect Christmas with the word joy. There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is temporary and usually generated by something external to our lives.
Joy is deeper, internal and may not be connected to the externalities of life. Most of us have probably lived enough of life to understand that there are times when the external circumstances of life may be anything but good and yet we can still be joyful. We can experience joy when even in dire circumstances when we act selflessly in someone else’s best interests. Most parents will attest to the fact that the sacrifices they made in rearing their children may have been at great cost but also resulted in great joy.
And that is the real story of Christmas! We give gifts because we were given a gift by God himself in the form of a little baby in a manger. We give at Christmas because we have received and in the process we are the beneficiaries of great joy.
And so that is my wish for you this Christmas season that you would experience great joy. In spite of the economy, in spite of any personal difficulties that you are going through it would be my desire that you live in the joy that comes from knowing that the gift of a baby, Immanuel, God with us, can and does make a difference not only at Christmas but year round. Merry Christmas!
Mark Smith is MLA for the Drayton Valley-Devon constituency and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.