Yesterday’s sermon was on “joy unspeakable and full of glory” from 1 Peter 1:6-9. The joy Paul speaks of here is not the froth at the top of the wave, but a joy in the midst of significant trials and testing. God is the goldsmith who pulls the gold ore out of the mine and begins to remove the dross by means of the fire. And then the gold is shaped by the goldsmith, which requires some pounding! But this is not because the gold is hated, but because it is being formed into a beautiful crown. Faith helps us to see the process of testing as a means of purification, a token of God’s love for us, and that enables us to rejoice in the trials. The gold of our faith is precious to God, and He removes the dross because He is making us into something wonderful.
The sentimental view of Christmas can’t deal with trials; this view wants Christmas to be trouble-free, a peaceful zone of silver bells and hot cider. But the first Christmas was a trial for Joseph and Mary, and it was certainly a trial for all the mothers who lost their sons to the sword of Herod’s jealousy and envy as he tried to destroy the Messiah.
So we should view our celebrations with the eye of Christian realism, knowing that a beautiful snowfall does not remove our sins. Only our Savior can make our hearts a suitable place for Christmas celebrations, hearts that understand the Savior’s mission to destroy sin. Knowing that He is dispensing our trials with wisdom and love, that each one is perfectly suited for each of us as He shapes us into crowns, gives us joy unspeakable and allows us to partake of his fullness of glory! And that is what enables us to say with faith, “Merry Christmas!”