Joy to the World {An Advent Devotional}



I absolutely love Christmas. As I type this, my tree is up. There is a green wreath woven up the staircase. There are twinkle lights strung from just about everything that they can hook on to. I have cinnamon candles to burn, frozen pumpkin in the freezer to whip up some seasonal desserts every now and then… I like the dark nights and cosy evenings. Who’s with me?

But there’s a word of caution there isn’t there? There’s so much peripheral stuff come Christmas, it’s easy to get altogether focussed on the wrong things.

Shopping and wrapping and cards and carol services and Sunday School nativities and craft fairs and coffee mornings and mid-season sales and visiting family members and…suddenly a long and stressful to-do list that the joy has been well and truly wrung out of. And there’s nothing really wrong with any of these things. In their own ways they are special, they make memories, they have earnest intentions and good motives.

So long as we don’t let them steal our joy.

Where is the joy to the world we sing of in an endless to-do list? In our attempts to make everyone’s Christmas wishes come true, how quickly do we lose sight of the true joy there is in the celebration of Jesus’ birth?

Issac Watts wrote the lyrics to ‘Joy to the World’ in 1719, basing them on the latter half of Psalm 98.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
 Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.

Look at the pure, jubilant praise there is for the Lord here! No signs of a harassed shopper hurtling around town grabbing last minute bargains. No online clicks for purchase after purchase. No furious turkey-stuffing-pie-baking-midnight-shopping-wish-granting pressures.

As we journey together over the next few weeks, let’s turn our hearts and our minds to the true joy that comes from remembering what this season is really all about.

Let’s remember why Jesus came and who he came for.

What are you doing this Christmas to ease away from the seasonal craziness and focus on the true joy that comes from knowing Jesus?

With Grace and Love

Helen x


  1. it’s gotta be the Savior first – then everything else

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joyce Reid. says:

    Yes. Jesus first. Everyday of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This Christmas we started by adopting a teenage girl to buy for. We took the kids with us and so far that’s the only gifts we have bought. Of course there will be many more, but we wanted to start the holiday with giving in the true sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We started the season by adopting a young girl in need. Giving first!


  5. With Christ as our focus we can enjoy the holidays as they were intended to be celebrated. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kelsey Ferguson says:

    Love this, Helen, especially this –> “Where is the joy to the world we sing of in an endless to-do list?” A couple of years ago, I decided that December was going to be about rest, reflection, and renewal. So my goal every year is to be 90% done with Christmas shopping and decorating by the beginning of Advent. It has really helped me focus on what Christmas is really about. We still do the traditional Christmas activities, but by taking out some of the crazy, we can focus on each other and God. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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