Tree of Joy

Dec 15, 2023

The Chattanooga Area Command is thrilled to share the much-anticipated Christmas Tree Decorating Contest for 2023. As the holiday season approached, our community participated by spreading joy and festive spirit, showcasing their creativity through beautifully adorned Christmas trees. The Chattanooga Area Command is excited to witness the creativity and enthusiasm of our community as we embark on this festive journey together. The Christmas Tree Decorating Contest promises to be a highlight of the holiday season, bringing joy and warmth to our community. Due to the impressive submissions, we have created a short Christmas devotion series to lead us through the season.

As you wander the hallways of the Citadel Corps, you will find their Tree of Joy. The Tree of Joy at Citadel is bedecked with buffalo-checked decorations, beautiful white lights, and symbols of our Christian faith. It is lean and graceful. It speaks of the rising joy that we find in the Good News. You might not notice it on a quick visit. It is a beautiful surprise that requires you to stand in front of it.

I do not know about you, but I usually like surprises. Now, in our family, surprises are hard to come by. We are so excited to see the looks on the faces of the people we are trying to surprise. We have difficulty waiting for the moment. Yes, we are those parents who have let our children open their presents early. The thing about joy is the impact, the joy it brings, to the people in our lives. Joy is infectious, and it can carry us through some hard times. Joy is part of the story in Luke 2:8-14 (New Living Translation).

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

We only see the word “joy” once in the Scripture passage. However, I can imagine joy permeated the shepherds. They had experienced the incredible display of the Good News “that will bring joy to all people.” Scripture tells us that after the proclamation, the shepherds “hurried” to the village of Bethlehem. They heard about the joy and wanted to experience it firsthand. Secondhand joy was never going to be enough for them. They wanted to experience it for themselves.

Included in this thought is a picture of the tree at Citadel. It is a very tall and proud tree that speaks of the joy of Christmas. While looking at the picture and feeling some of the joy, you could also go to Citadel and see the tree yourself. You could experience the joy firsthand. Firsthand joy, that infectious joy, is what the world needs now. Not a joy that quickly gives up but an irrepressible, unending, rebounding joy that rings out across the globe. The joy that comes from the Good News and the impact it can have on our lives.

Our hope for you is that you do not settle for secondhand joy from someone else. You dig down deep and experience the firsthand joy of this season and the promise that it brings. Because, as Scripture says, the Good News, this joy, is for all people. And, that means YOU!


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