One Starry Night

Oh, my, it has been a busy week! I began my “joyful journal” on Monday and kept adding to it almost every day. Had I not been looking carefully, I might have missed some of the more simple joys of the season, such as seeing the Downy Woodpecker at our suet feeder, or the colorful twinkling lights on our street.

Heartwarming joys mid-week included delivering Christmas gifts to a homeless outreach program, and providing clothing for a young boy in need. There is no greater joy in this season of giving than helping others who are struggling through difficult times.

A very special joy came this weekend, as we participated in “One Starry Night in Bethlehem”. Now in its fourth year, this event has become an annual tradition — not only for our church — but also for many families in our community. For two nights, our church is transformed into the town of Bethlehem, as we imagine it might have appeared on the night of Jesus’ birth.

I was particularly excited last evening because our daughter joined us for the first time. She played the role of a potter named Leah, demonstrating how to fashion small bowls from clay.

My husband and I look forward to sharing the Christmas story with our visitors each year. Yes, we are the innkeepers — the ones who turned Mary and Joseph away because our inn was full to capacity. We tell the children how we led the couple to our stable, and there Mary gave birth to a son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and placed him in the manger, right beside the animals.

The children love hearing the story, and they sit wide-eyed as my husband shares how the shepherds followed the star and came searching for the newborn King. Later in the evening, the families will visit with Mary and Joseph in the stable, and see baby Jesus before leaving Bethlehem. It is wonderful that we are able to tell the Christmas story in a way that brings it to life!

Isn’t it amazing how one starry night brought such joy into the world, and continues to shine in our hearts today?

Seeking Joy

I’ve had a very long day today, but I am determined to share my thoughts before turning in for the night.

Today, as Advent began, I found myself contemplating the need for joy in this world. This is especially true during the Christmas season when happiness and contentment seem to be short in supply.

Why is joy so elusive this time of year? Why are we so unhappy?

I think many of us feel battered about, and are constantly running a day behind long before the holiday season arrives. We become so preoccupied with making everyone around us happy, that we forget to look for joy ourselves!

Sometimes joy can be found in the most unusual places, and often when we are not expecting to find it at all . . .

When Jesus was born, an angel appeared and told the shepherds about the birth of a Savior. The shepherds had been tending their flocks, and keeping watch over their sheep at night. It had been a day like any other, and they certainly were not expecting this life-changing news.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬

Jesus’ birth brought joy to all people . . . even lowly shepherds. And not just a little joy, but great joy! This was news to celebrate, so the shepherds hurried on their way to see this child for themselves.

We need this same joy today!

What if we each kept a “joy journal” this coming week, and wrote down all the ways — both large and small — that we experience joy? My guess is that we will be amazed with all the places we discover joy when we truly begin to seek it. And if we don’t find it, let’s create it for someone else!

Have a joy-filled week!