It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I know, the ads have been playing since before Halloween! But the closer it gets to the day, people seem to get a little kinder, the stores are more beautiful, and even the stars seem to shine a little bit brighter. And joy is more palpable. Do you feel it?
Sometimes joy comes softly. When you least expect it, there it is. As you’re crying your eyeballs out, trying to figure out life after loss, someone calls just to say that they’re thinking of you. And you feel a little joy. The news gives you all the terrible stories of the day, then they throw in a feel-good story that makes you smile. Like the story of a merry band of folks, restoring an old schoolhouse! And you realize that the world isn’t such a bad place after all. Joy!
Joy is an emotion, and true joy is not based on the external. No, true joy is an inside job. Based on the One who resides within. Let me put this into context. Webster’s Dictionary defines joy as an emotion, but it is also defines it as a source or cause of delight. In other words, there is a source, something caused you to have delight. What is your source of joy? Or should I say WHO is your source of joy?
Some shepherds were minding their business long ago, tending to their sheep at night, when suddenly an angel appeared, shining with the glory of the Lord! As if that wasn’t enough, the angel had a message for them:
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
The angel had good news of great joy! If you know anything about shepherds back in the day, they were not the most popular of people. The sheep could wipe out any farmer’s pasture they passed through. They were noisy and stinky, which meant that the shepherds were stinky, too. Yeah, they weren’t well liked.
So, imagine this scene – out in the fields, tending the sheep, dirty and tired, and this glorious vision comes to pass. But not only that, this angel had some good news for them. Joy was about to be born! And this joy would be for ALL people, including the shepherds.
Isn’t it just like God to reveal the Messiah’s birth to the outcast? To those who aren’t famous or rich or lovely? Just everyday folks who were in need of some good news.
Maybe that’s you. In need of some good news. Things may not be the way that you hoped they would be. We’ve lost some family and friends this year. Some have lost jobs, been looked over for promotions or raises, been the victim of crime, and the world seems a little more fragile. But I want you to know that joy is also near. The good news of great joy is for all of us because the child born in the city of David is the Messiah, our Savior and Lord!
Why do I connect the Messiah with joy? Let’s look at what happened to the shepherds when they saw the child for themselves:
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.
Sounds like joy to me! Something happened on the inside of them, an emotion they couldn’t contain. They had JOY! And it came from the little baby born in Bethlehem. Jesus was the source of their delight, the reason why they burst out in praise. Richard Smallwood wrote a song, and the chorus goes like this: Jesus, You’re the center of my joy, all that’s good and perfect comes from You. You’re the source of my contentment, hope for all I do. Jesus, You’re the center of my joy.
Need more joy in your life? Go to the Source. Feeling a little discontented? Go to the Source. The One whose very birth brought joy TO the world because He is Joy FOR the world. Joy is the gift that keeps on giving, so this Advent give the gift that fits into every stocking and every heart, the gift of joy!
This Sunday is the third Sunday of the Advent season. A time when we celebrate the joy of Christmas. A time when we remember the birth of our Savior, the One who is joy FOR the world!
I invite you to join us for worship, as we continue the Advent Sermon Series: The Heart of Christmas. This Sunday’s message is: Joy For the World. You can worship in-person or you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.
Voices of Wonder! This Sunday, December 11, during worship, hear the Christmas story narrated through word, song, and dance! (the kiddos, not me!). You’ll hear some familiar songs and some new ones. Join us for Voices of Wonder!
Advent Bible Study “The Heart of Christmas” concludes this Wednesday. We will talk more about experiencing joy in trying times. Join us for a potluck dinner at 5:45 and stay for the discussion on finding joy. If you’re coming for the discussion only, it starts at 6:30pm and ends at 7:30. Then we will be on break until January.
Advent Adventures is this Sunday, Dec. 11, from 5:30p – 7:00p. Live animals, s’mores, coffee and cocoa, and hayrides! Also, the GT Elementary School choir will be on hand to add some Christmas cheer through song. Oh, what a night!
May you experience the JOY of JESUS this Advent and always!