Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

December 23, 2014

The Joys of Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Christmas is a time of joy!  Children are excited! Families laugh and love!  It is truly a season of joy!  I have looked back and remembered times of special joy at Christmas.  Sometimes, that joy was even expressed with tears.

It was Christmas 1956.  I was pastor of a church in Texas and we had a special Christmas Eve program.  As soon as it was completed, I began a long, lonely journey to Georgia.  I was anxious to get home and see my family and friends.  U.S. 80.  I had traveled this highway before.  I had often hitched a ride with a friend going the direction toward Georgia.  I had ridden the bus on occasion. And the last time I had been down this highway I hitch-hiked that 1000 miles.  But now I had a car.  Though a long trip, that 1950 Plymouth was my rocket home.

There were very few service stations or businesses opened at these late evening and early morning hours. There was not much to attract your attention.  Passing the time, I know that I thought a thousand thoughts.  I thought of home and  family.  I looked forward also to seeing some old friends and sharing with them my new life.  Oh, it was to be a wonderful holiday.

Somewhere in Louisiana, about 2 a.m. I was listening to the radio when suddenly there was  static and cracking.  Then a voice seemingly broke in, and I heard “This is WSB, Atlanta, Georgia.”  How could this be?  I was too far away to pick up this station that was so familiar to me.  It happened, of course, as a result of what is called in the industry, a skip.  Because of some unusual atmospheric conditions, the sound wave was bouncing over some clouds and falling upon me!  My attention was fixed on hearing WSB.  Suddenly, the station began to play “I’ll Be Home for Christmas . . . .”  Oh, the emotion of that moment.  Tears began to flow down my cheeks.  The tears were an expression of joy and excitement.  As a 23-year-old, I had no apology for my tears.  I was going home and my heart was bursting with anticipation.  I can never forget the emotion of that moment!

Yet there is another Christmas where my heart experienced joy. A joy that overwhelmed me.  It was the Christmas of 1961.  Judy and I were in a committed relationship, and we knew that marriage was in our future.  In fact, we believed that on our first date!  Although we both anticipated marriage in the short future, there was still no official announcement of our plans.  I was the pastor of a church in Clearwater and Judy attended there with me.  The entire church knew it would only be a matter of time before an engagement would be announced.  Yet no one knew that time.

As Christmas approached, I could not think of a better time.  I talked with her father and received permission to officially propose to her.  Then at the precise, planned moment, I asked her to be my wife.  But I did not ask in the usual manner.  My proposal would be different, and few men in the world could use the words of my proposal.  As I gazed at her, I sang ” ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!” 

And she responded yes!  Suddenly there was a joy unspeakable.  Within my heart there were fireworks, shouts, singing, laughter, joy, and even tears.  Many of those emotions were visible also.  What a Christmas joy I experienced!

The joy that must overwhelm us at this season is what we often sing “Joy to the World,! The Lord is Come.”  Celebrating Christmas must be more than the joy of being with family and friends.  There should be an emotion that is pure within our hearts–a joy beyond expression.  To know that because of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, our lives can know a peace beyond what the world can ever offer.  Joy, happiness, and even tears should overflow from our hearts at the Christmas season.  Try to imagine a world without Jesus Christ–or your life without Him!  God so loved us that He gave to each of us His Son to be our Saviour and Lord.  Oh, we must celebrate with great joy!  And if tears are an expression of your joy, so be it!

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4)



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