-Yancey Washington, 2018
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…”
These lines might seem like an odd opening to a devotion that is supposed to be about Joy, and while they certainly could have been written today, the words are, in fact, a portion of a sonnet by English poet William Wordsworth. He wrote the lines about 1802, approximately 216 years ago, when the Industrial Revolution in England was in full swing, and people were manufacturing all types of goods and materials faster than ever before, and in so doing were spending a lot more time inside.
In our current day and age, Christmas is an enhanced time of “getting and spending,” and seemingly more so every year. The tangible gifts that we give each other can certainly bring joy. It is particularly fun to watch children at Christmas. However, in comparison to what many children receive today, I think of my father telling me about his grandmother who was born in 1886 and grew up in Person County and Oxford. She felt lucky if received an orange, some nuts, and a small China doll. Was her joy any less in an era of different standards?
As adults and Christians, we know that the gifts we give each other are but tokens and symbols for the ultimate gift that God gave humankind in sending his son Jesus to live among us, to grow and to teach. The revolutionary nature of Jesus’ teaching, in the beatitudes and throughout the New Testament, is a gift that should and does inspire joy. We are no longer bound to be slaves to ritualistic laws of the past as were the Israelites of old. We need only love the Lord and our neighbors – not easy in application – but cause for great joy, nonetheless. Additionally, and moreover is the joy that comes in understanding that through God’s son who was sent to the world, we and all on earth have a path to everlasting life. God’s love provides joy that endures and lasts long after “getting and spending” have lost their luster.
Merry Christmas to all!