Every year at this time we collect an offering named the Christmas Joy offering. It started in the 1930s, primarily to support retired ministers and other church workers (including missionaries) whose pensions proved inadequate or who ran into medical problems.

My thoughts moved on from that specific offering, to Christmas Joy as a concept. Why is Christmas time supposed to be joyful? What source for joy is peculiar to Christmas? The answer to these questions is, of course, the birth of Jesus. But how is the birth of a single baby 2,000 years ago the source, the cause, of worldwide joy today?

Let me backup for a moment. We traditionally associate the Christmas season with gift-giving. What does receiving a gift mean to the recipient? It says, “You are valuable. You are cared for. You are loved.” We don’t give gifts unless we perceive the value, the dignity of the person we give to…unless we care enough to spend the time and money required to give a gift (this is the basis for the old expression, “It’s the thought that counts”)…unless the sense of devotion we call “love” impels us to generosity. To know you are the recipient of these spiritual and emotional qualities naturally creates joy in human hearts. So Christmas time, as a gift-giving season, is a natural time for joy.

“You are valuable. You are cared for. You are loved.” How does Jesus’ birth induce those spiritual qualities within our hearts and minds? Because of the Gift and the Giver at Christmas. The Gift is Jesus, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. What a valuable gift! And given at such a great cost. Don’t let sugar-coated Christmas cards cause you to forget the awful destiny that baby of Bethlehem was born to fulfill: to die for our sins on the cross.

Even more, we must remember the Giver: God the Father. This fact is what makes John 3:16 the most popular verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV) The Gift given at Christmas proves that divine love and care belong to us. To be the recipients of such a marvelous Gift is the cause for worldwide joy.

God gave that Gift to us! How can we ever doubt that we are valued, cared for, loved by, the Supreme Being who created the universe! The only way we can doubt is by forgetting the fundamental Christmas Truth: God loves us so much he will stop at nothing to draw us into his eternal embrace, into everlasting life in paradise. You Christians, who have received this most blessed Gift into your lives—never doubt the depths of joy that belong to you on Christmas Day, and on every day…now and forevermore.