In the midst of preparing for Christmas,  hearts are torn open with grief and for too many the world will never be the same. Gunmen in schools and life of little ones snuffed out by the harsh reality of evil in our midst. How can there be joy now?

Now more than ever, we need to remember joy is more than the gift, more than the good things. Joy is deeper than circumstance and has the ability to pierce through our condition.

December days are often filled  with joyful activities, decorations, and traditions. We put heart into the gifts we give, hoping to wrap up a little piece of joy along with the gift. We look forward to the joy of giving and receiving as gifts begin to pile under the tree.  All good…but there is more.


Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.“–James 1:17


Worship Tip: Look Beyond

There are many wonderful things in life we enjoy, especially this time of year, but what is the true source of joy? Where do we find that fount splashing joy up and over us? In the midst of pain, can joy be found?

Today, let’s stretch our hearts out of the business of the day, and look beyond the gifts that bring us joy. Too often we are satisfied with the joy of God’s blessings, rather than the joy of knowing our God who gives.

Look through the gifts that bring delight, for our blessings are windows into the heart of the One who is joy.

Let me give you an example: I find great joy in the gift of my family. I am thankful for God’s blessings with skin on them–husband, children, parents, sister, and brother.

Looking beyond the blessing of family, my eyes are opened to God’s father-heart. His love, never-ending is demonstrated in the gift of family. God creates and nurtures. He provides and guides. He is a God of relationships. These are just a few of the joys I see when I look beyond the gift into the heart of the Giver.

Today’s Worship Challenge: Find  Your Joy

Think of the gifts that bring you joy. Look through each blessing, appreciating something about God, the giver of all good. As you do, find joy in the following verses. Ask God to open your eyes in new ways to discover the true source of joy. Ask Him to lead you to the joy of His presence.

Psalm 43:3-5

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
 Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.

Psalm 16:8-9, 11

I have set the Lord continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely….

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

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Ubi Caritas

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

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