Over the past several weeks, the word JOY has repeatedly entered into my life. I believe it began when my wife, Amy, brought home a five-foot tall white sign with JOY written in large red letters to use in our Christmas decorating. At GRACE, we have “JOY” written in large red letters in the main hallway of our TK-6th grade campus. Additionally, the word resounds through the stream of Christmas songs playing on our radios and the dialogue in every Hallmark channel movie. “JOY” is probably one of the most used words during the Christmas season, even though we may not hear it too often the other eleven months of the year.
The word “JOY” showed up as part of the devotion Assistant Principal Isaiah Whelpley shared at the December Donuts for Dads meeting. Isaiah read from John 15 and shared the importance of abiding in Christ. This is the passage where Jesus shares that He “is the vine and [His] Father is the vinedresser.” The illustration that follows in verses 2-10 discuss the importance of abiding in Christ. Abide has several meanings, including to remain with, to wait for, to accept without opposition, to act in accord with, and to remain faithful to. As part of the devotion, Isaiah did a fantastic job of sharing the need for all of us to abide in Christ at all times, and emphasized the need to do this amidst the busyness of our daily lives, and especially at Christmas. When we abide in Christ, it shows through our actions, especially to those who are closest to us. When we abide in Christ, people notice. When we abide in Christ, we become more like Christ in our thoughts.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11)
As Isaiah wrapped up his devotion that morning, I couldn’t help but get caught up in verse 11 — “These things I have spoken to you, that My JOY may remain in you, and that your JOY may be full.” So as you experience this hectic present-shopping, package-wrapping, parade-walking, carol-singing, midterm-grading, Hallmark movie-watching, college football-bowling, family-visiting, and sweet-eating time, remember that the key to finding JOY amidst all of this is to abide in Christ. Phillips Brooks, the author of O Little Town of Bethlehem, must have understood this when he wrote the line, “O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.”
“O holy Child of Bethlehem | Descend to us, we pray | Cast out our sin and enter in | Be born to us today | We hear the Christmas angels | The great glad tidings tell | O come to us, abide with us | Our Lord Emmanuel | O come to us, abide with us | Our Lord Emmanuel” (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
We are thankful for every GRACE family and hope your JOY is full this December as you abide in Him, and throughout the new year. Please enjoy this 2016 Christmas Video that was filmed and edited by our 6th grade Multimedia Elective class.