Being Merry on Christmas

I wish we all could feel merry on Christmas. I’m sure many do. But it is possible that, for whatever reason, some of us may not be feeling all that joyous or festive.

I have often struggled with not being all that visibly excited about the season. But I think that’s okay. It is perhaps alright if we can count it as joy, to use the words of our brother James. So then the question is this: How do we count Christmas as merry or happy?

Right accounting requires right knowledge. And I believe increased knowledge in three specific areas could lead to experiencing greater joy on the occasion of Christmas.

Increased knowledge of my own sin could lead to greater joy

Christmas is good news because there exists the reality of judgement. There exists the reality of sin. Our hearts are corrupt… Our hearts are sinful, rebellious and wicked. It is in despairing and mourning over our sins that we can derive joy in the hope of Christmas.

God Himself came down to pay the penalty of our sin because we could not pay it. God Himself came down to live a righteous life and count His righteousness as ours because we could not live such a life.

Reflecting on my own sin could lead to greater joy during Christmas.

Increased knowledge of national and global affairs could lead to greater joy

I remember reading RC Sproul explain the difficulty of explaining the idea of a Sovereign God to a people (from the USA) who were so steeped in an antimonarchical culture.

In a similar vein, I wonder how deeply I understand the glorious promise of a “Prince of Peace” in my 21st-century Bangalore middle-class lifestyle. Political apathy is a privilege that is not enjoyed by many across the world, and yet I can go on without feeling the futility and frustration of failed human governance on an intensely personal level.

But when I read about the military dictatorship of Myanmar, the continuing unrest in Kashmir Valley, the suppression of the rights of women in Afghanistan and Iran, the war in Ukraine… Or when I read about the communal clashes within my own state of Karnataka, I can feel hopeful and joyous about the hope of a Prince of Peace.

After all, the first Christmas was observed in the context of colonialism, mass murder of babies and a religious structure that was completely caught up in petty politics.

Increased knowledge of history could lead to greater joy

Knowing the context in which the first Christmas was celebrated technically comes under the subject of History. But there’s a lot more of History that can help us appreciate and enjoy the hope and joy of Christmas.

A week ago, the school where I work put up a play called “Everyone was worried.” The play begins with the prophets of the Old Testament wondering why it is taking so long for their prophecies to come to pass. But as they look on from heaven, the birth of Christ dispels all their doubts. A number of prophecies about Christ come to pass in the birth of Jesus.

I loved that play. God is faithful to His Word. And He will be faithful to every single promise of His that is yet to come.

God weaves His story through history. The whole plan of redemption plays out over thousands of years. We can trace it back to when He made the promise to Abraham, or perhaps even further back when He made a promise to Eve.

So, how does knowledge of history lead to greater joy during Christmas?

History shows that the promises of God do come to pass. It gives us hope that the promises of God will continue to be fulfilled.

Joy to the World

While Christmas is good news for me as an individual, it is also a lot more than that. It is good news and joy for the whole world. God’s plans and purposes are on a scale infinitely larger and grander than our minds can comprehend. But we can look up and try to see. And as we reflect on God weaving the threads of History, or as we reflect on His sovereignty over the entire world, we can rejoice and be merry in the hope of Christmas — the hope of a better King!

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Isaac Watts

Being Indian and Christian

Being Indian and Christian is my weekly newsletter in which I try to understand the world (popular culture or news and events from India or around the world) from a Christian worldview. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d be honoured if you signed up!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top