We all want that Hallmark- holiday-movie-type-of-Christmas, don’t we? But the problem is, that isn’t realistic because life isn’t a Hallmark movie. We have real demands, real hurts, and real bank accounts, (can I get an Amen?!). So how do we find and keep our joy during the busy demands of Christmas? How do we live out daily life with a focus on the divine?

There are two ways in which we can find and keep joy this Christmas.

1. Say Yes to God First

In Luke chapter 2:38,  Mary responds to the angel Gabriel by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”  Mary said yes to God first. She didn’t know what to expect, she didn’t know what was coming, can you imagine all the things going through her mind…but she said yes anyway. I don’t know about you but I would have had a laundry list of whats, buts, hows and whens to ask Gabriel. I’d want to put a pod in the Nespresso, sit down for a bit,  and chat it all out. But Mary didn’t. She didn’t say “hold on-I’ve got this, and that, and oh yeah, I’m about to be married”.

We get like that too during the Christmas Season, don’t we? We list out everything we need to do and we say, ” I don’t have time for quiet time, or bible study, or church this week.” Or even worse we do those things but our heart isn’t in it. We just rush through.

Don’t wait to say yes. Don’t wait for next year, or the pay raise, or the perfect Hallmark moment.  It doesn’t have to be a big yes. It can be little. Luke 16:10 says, “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much”. Start small. What would happen if you committed to saying no to all the other stuff and said yes to Him first? What if you woke up a littler earlier and read that advent devotional? What if you stayed up a few minutes later- I know we’re all tired- and prayed for ten extra minutes?  What if you said yes to that thing God has been nudging you toward?

By saying yes first, everything else will fall into place.

2. Slow Down and Ponder the Season

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19 (emphasis added). This time of year it is so easy to get caught up in all the stuff; band concerts, recitals, Christmas parties and open houses, shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping.  Much of it, most of it, in fact, is good. But even good isn’t a substitute for great.

Mary isn’t running around doing all the things, attempting to make it perfect.  She’s not tidying up the manager with the arrival of the shepherds. It says she pondered them in her heart. The word pondered means to consider deeply and thoroughly, to weigh carefully in the mind.

I wonder how often we miss these moments of pondering- of being present- because we are too busy doing the good stuff. Mary didn’t have to do it all because God already did it for her. And we don’t have to do it all either. The success of the Christmas season does not rest upon your shoulders or my shoulders. Can I say that again? It doesn’t depend on you. Christ already did it. This season is not about us. It is about HIS arrival, not our becoming.

I want to encourage you and challenge you this Christmas to say yes to the Lord, to slow down and ponder the season. If we do those two things, like Mary, we won’t just find, or keep, our joy this Christmas season, but we will begin to spread it as well.