THIS WEEK: ReDiscover JOY!
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. —Psalm 51:10-12
Christmas trees can trace their roots all the way back to ancient cultures, including the Egyptians and Romans who decorated with evergreen boughs to mark the Winter Solstice. The Christmas tree tradition we know got started in Germany in the 16th century, and it’s believed that Martin Luther first added candles to light the tree and made it part of Christian celebrations. German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to the U.S. in the 1830s. But the trees became widely popular across the U.S. and Great Britain in 1846, when a London newspaper showed an illustration of Queen Victoria, the German Prince Albert, and their children celebrating around their Christmas tree.
From the beginning, evergreens have been loved for their constant reminder of flourishing life through the long, dark winter. Even through December’s shortest days, the
evergreens promise a restoration of life and growth.
Sometimes we need a restoration of joy just like King David did when he wrote Psalm 51. His famous prayer followed the darkest days of his adultery with Bathsheba and the arranged murder of her husband. David had finally hit his low and poured out his confession and remorse to God, asking for forgiveness and renewal. He longed for a restoration of the joy of his relationship with God.
How often we too need a cleansing fresh start! So much can jade our hearts and choke our joy, whether it’s our own sin or the busyness and pressures of the holidays. Sometimes we need the honesty of confession and the simplicity of quiet reflection. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, Jesus is here, welcoming us with restorative joy.
Apply: What is coming between you and God? How will you pour out your heart to God?
(Reprinted with permission from Outreach.com “Advent Reading Plan”)