The first widespread usage of the greeting Merry Christmas apparently began in 1843 with the publishing of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Not surprisingly, the greeting first appeared on Christmas cards that same year. The idea behind this phrase is that Christmas should be a happy, joyous time. When you wish someone a Merry Christmas, you are, in fact, offering a blessing to them. The blessing of forgiveness of sin.
God filled the sky with his angels to honor the birth of his son. God commands the rivers and the hills to sing for joy at the Savior’s birth. So giving the blessing of Merry Christmas resonates with the purpose and actions of God!
Psalm 98 was the basis of the carol by Isaac Watts, “Joy to the World.” The psalm builds to a crescendo of praise, culminating in joy that Christ will come to judge the people of the earth with equity. The joy is in Christ’s righteous judgment. This is closely connected to the praise of the angels in Luke. God will bring peace to those on whom he has blessed with favor. In other words, peace comes to those who have believed and embraced the gospel.
Joy to the world is another way to say Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas keeps the gospel sharply in focus!