The Simplest Gift You Can Give
by Dale Reeves
Leon Ivey, Jr. (better known at Coolio), said this, “Life is too short to not have fun; we are only here for a short time compared to the sun and the moon and all that.”
Well, this past Wednesday was another one of those nights when I had a ton of fun in the name of Jesus. I might have even gotten a little undignified. And, maybe even in front of my two-year-old grandson Luke. And, maybe in front of the middle school teens in our church. And maybe alongside a bunch of elderly folks at the Lodge Nursing and Rehab Center. It’s amazing how much fun you can have when you sing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” butcher the lyrics to “Feliz Navidad,” and dance around in a conga line with a bunch of kids while some seniors look on and smile. A lady named Gracie said to one of her caregivers, “This is the first time I have laughed today!”
Joy to the World
Jesus came to this earth to bring joy. Outside the little town of Bethlehem while shepherds were guarding their flocks of sheep, an angel of the Lord showed up and completely freaked them out, but the angel reassured them saying, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:10, 11, NLT).
Great joy! After Jesus’ birth, perhaps even a few years later, stargazers arrived from the east looking for a very special star they had been studying that they believed was pointing to a newborn king. Matthew 2:9, 10 tells us, “And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (NLT). They were filled with overflowing joy!
Did you catch the gift they were given when they arrived at the final resting place of the star that marked the residence of the baby Messiah? JOY. Joy in the biblical sense means delight, exhilaration, cheerfulness, glee, gladness. It’s my excuse for what happened Wednesday night.
A Simple Gift
Do you know anybody who might be saying this season, “I haven’t laughed all day!”? Do you know anybody who needs an adrenaline shot of joy? This time of year can be awfully tough for the down and out, for the lonely, for someone dealing with grief, for the outcast and misfit. And this is one of the simplest gifts you can give this Christmas. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of money or a little money to spend this season, because this gift practically costs you nothing. It will cost you a little bit of time, and maybe a little bit of your pride. But it is something we all can give freely in very liberal amounts.
The Greatest Showman, P. T. Barnum, said, “The noblest art is that of making others happy.”
Our God is the ultimate author of celebration, the inventor of the party, and he loves it when we come together in community to revel in his goodness. He loves it when we spend our time thinking less of ourselves but doing what we can to bring joy into the lives of other people.
They Must Be Drunk
More than once in my lifetime I have been accused of being drunk at a wedding reception. Many people assume you would have to be drunk to have that much fun. Some people can’t even fathom having a good time without the presence of alcohol. I once performed a rap at the funeral of an 11-year-old boy who had died of leukemia. His mother chose to dress in white at the celebration of his life, and his soccer team showed up in their team uniforms, because the family desired more of a celebration of their son going to be with Jesus than a dirge.
When we celebrate like those who have hope in this world, sometimes the watching world doesn’t understand it. This happened to the disciples of Jesus in Acts 2. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to Heaven, his followers had gathered together, and the Holy Spirit of God showed up big time. The believers were filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. There were some onlookers at this event who were amazed and perplexed at what they saw, and they exclaimed, “They have had too much wine!”
I like to think that sometimes that’s what it looks like to be full of the Spirit. The apostle Paul actually contrasts the two in the book of Ephesians. So every now and then I get a little undignified. I wish I could have been there when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. His critics didn’t know what to do with that. Have you ever been to a Jewish wedding & danced the hora? I have—and they know how to celebrate!
I took my oldest grandson with me and the middle schoolers Wednesday night because I want him to experience how nice elderly people can be. I want him to learn how fun it is to sing songs of joy and praise to help lift the spirits of others. I want him to get a taste every now and then of what multigenerational celebration might look like in Heaven. Wanna experience some joy with the body of Christ? If you’ve never been a part of our “Night to Shine” prom for young adults with special needs, plan now to be here. It’s a night of spreading cheer, sharing love, dancing, laughing, crying, getting a taste of Heaven here on earth. It’s coming February 7, 2020. You can sign up for this night HERE.
Joy is a gift. Share it.
Psalm 126:2, 3, “We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.’ Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (NLT).