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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pastorgraphs: “Comfort and Joy”

E-Vangel Newsletter

December 9, 2014

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: “Comfort and Joy”

In the words of the old Christmas carol, “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” this should be the season of Comfort and Joy. Yet it seems increasingly each year there is less joy, not to mention much less comfort. That’s why I found Elizabeth Landau’s CNN article, “Why happiness is healthy”, timely.

Before I dive in, let me distinguish between happiness and joy. In my book on integrity, I pointed out that joy is more enduring than happiness. Joy is a durable state of well-being that is less dependent on circumstances, while happiness comes and goes depending upon changing situations.

So maybe “comfort” is more akin to happiness in the words of the old carol. It’s not either-or, but both comfort (happiness) and joy they were singing about to herald in Christmas spirit.

Back to the article. In short, Landau asserts that happiness matters, is hard to define, is based more on experiences and relationships than upon money and possessions, and increases with age. 

Why be happy? Happiness matters. The qualities of optimism, a sense of well-being or meaningfulness in life are important to our physical and emotional health. 

One study revealed that making more money (beyond a certain point) actually decreased happiness. And while giving and receiving gifts is a dominant force this time of year, it is being with loved ones (relationships) that produces genuine happiness. 

But we are not always in control over our happiness. Landau wrote, “between unexpected tragedies and daily habitual stress, environmental factors can bring down mood and dry up our thirst for living.” Managing the ups and downs of life is difficult anytime, but especially during the holidays.

That is where the carol has words of wisdom. Most likely, the writer had a comma between merry and gentlemen. It is not God rest ye "merry gentlemen", as though we should seek to be giddy folk this time of year. Perhaps the carol writer had it correct: “God rest (comfort) you with merriment (joy), you gentlemen and ladies”. The reason for being rested (comforted) as merry (happiness and joy) comes from the words that follow:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray:
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy

Tidings of comfort and joy emerge from the knowledge that the birth of our Savior saves us from Satan’s power (sin, depression, guilt, loneliness) and leads us back into the path of joy when we go astray.

Finally, as a senior citizen, I am pleased to find Landau’s conclusion that happiness increases with age. Maybe that is because the older we get, the more relationships we have experienced. Plus age brings its own wisdom, especially recognizing that things are a poor substitute for family and friends.

My wish and prayer for each of you today is that you will find and experience God’s comfort and joy this blessed, holy season.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy, indeed.

In Christ’s Service,
Bill Jenkins

P.S. My Mother turns 93 today! Happy 93rd birthday “Momma Jenks”. I love you.
From The Quote Garden:
“Don't put the key to happiness in someone else's pocket.”
~ Author Unknown ~

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