“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.” ~ Roger Ebert

One of my favorite scenes from any Christmas movie was the scene where Linus tells Charlie Brown the real meaning of Christmas. It goes like this…

Charlie Brown: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”

Linus Van Pelt: “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. [Linus moves toward the center of the stage.] Lights, please. [A spotlight shines on Linus.] And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: [Linus drops his security blanket on purpose.] for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ [Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown.] That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Like Charlie Brown, we can easily lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. We can get caught up in the trappings of the season, and forget the story behind all of the decorations, gifts, and gatherings. This can leave us feeling melancholy, stressed, unfulfilled, and unhappy, like Charlie Brown. But, like Linus said to Charlie Brown, we have to remember the what Christmas is all about…

A baby. Wrapped in swaddling clothes. Laying in a manger. Tidings of great joy to all people. On earth, peace and good will to all.

So, what about joy? Is it really for all people?

I’ve often said, “Happiness is happenstance, but the joy of Jesus transcends circumstance.” The fact of the matter is that happiness is elusive and fickle. It is dependent on circumstances and as a result, it is fleeting. Charlie Brown experienced this. So do we sometimes.

But the joy that Jesus represents is something all together different. This joy is a spirit-filled, everlasting joy that knows no bounds. It is a joy that transcends circumstances and has the power to change us and the World around us. And it is meant for everyone. It is why we sing “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!”

Roger Ebert said, “We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems. Our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

It is our responsibility and our calling to share joy with the world. And in so doing, we are elevated in joy ourselves! It helps us to rise above our problems, our health, and our circumstances. And it helps others to do the same.

This year, can we unwrap the real gift of Christmas – the gift of joy? A gift that isn’t under the tree but exists within our hearts. Then, can we share this most precious gift with those around us, and in so doing, share joy to the World?

We must try.

May you abound in joy this holiday season and in the New Year!