‘You are great, Lord, and highly to be praised (Ps. 47:2): great is your power and your wisdom is immeasurable’ (Ps. 146:5). Man, a little piece of your creation, desires to praise you, a human being ‘ bearing his mortality with him'(2 Cor. 4:10), carrying with him the witness of his sin and the witness that your ‘resist the proud’ (1 Peter 5:5). Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. Your stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
‘Grant me Lord to know and understand'( Ps. 118:34, 73, 144) which comes first– to call upon your or to praise yo, and whether knowing your precedes calling upon you. But who calls upon your when he does not know you? For an ignorant person might call upon someone else instead of the right one. But surely you may be called upon in prayer that you may be known. Yet ‘ how shall they call upon him whom they have not believed? and how shall the believe without a preacher?'(Rom. 10:14). Thy will praise the Lord who seek for him'(Ps. 21:27).
In seeking him they find him, and in finding they will praise him. Lord, I would seek you, calling upon you– and calling upon your is an act of believing in you. You have been preached to us. My faith, Lord, calls upon you. It is your gifts to me. You breathed it into me by the humanity of your Son, be the ministry of your preacher.
Except from Saint Augustine’s Confessions p.3
It’s week three of Advent. A week to focus on joy. The joy that comes from anticipating the arrival of Christ’s birth.
But ironically finding joy in Christ during the Christmas season, is often hard. Especially when there is so much competition for our affections.
So how do we find our joy in Christ, even in the midst of our market-driven society?
Here’ s three steps that I think can help:
1. WE START BY FORGETTING ABOUT OURSELVES
John Piper writes,
“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
2. THEN WE TRUST THAT JESUS IS THE BETTER JOY
St. Augustine, speaking of Jesus, wrote in his Confessions,
“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure.”
3. FINALLY WE WORSHIP
As Bishop N.T. Wright put it,
“When we begin to glimpse the reality of God, the natural reaction is to worship him. Not to have that reaction is a fairly sure sign that we haven’t yet really understood who he is or what he’s done.”
So this Christmas season don’t let the commercials, and the stress of buying stuff, steal your joy. Instead give yourself permission to lose yourself in the person of Jesus Christ, thinking about who he is and all he has done. Allow Jesus to take away your affections for lesser pleasures, and begin to fill your heart with deeper affections for himself. Then worship. Wherever you are, even if you must begin with whispers, praise him for everything you can think of.
Then you will find joy.