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  • Pastor Linda Settles

Unfolding Joy!

My all-time favorite movie, not just at Christmas but all through the year, is It’s a Wonderful Life. And even though I have it on DVD, and you can no doubt find it on the internet, whenever it comes on TV, I HAVE to watch it! My youngest son and I are the sentimental ones of the family. So, when the movie came on the other night, I had to text him a picture of George Bailey as a kid and ask him, “What movie is this?” Well, of course he knew! It brings us joy to reminisce.


And what strikes me about the movie is not the great acting, which it had, and not the nostalgia of an innocent time, which I do love. No, what struck me this year was how joy just unfolded throughout George’s lifetime. And he didn’t even recognize it as such.


Without giving the movie away, I’ll sum it up by saying that if you look back over your life, the lives that have touched you and the lives that have been touched by you, you will see an intricate web of joy. The memories of teachers, coaches, church family with whom you’ve interacted. In Bible study, someone recalled going to church potluck dinners as a child, and the warm feeling and sense of family that it invoked. Precious memories.


Memories can bring us great joy. And we know that in eternity we will experience great joy. But for now, we’re living in the meantime. How do you find joy, let alone live in joy, in times like these? Perhaps it’s in the ordinariness of a life that doesn’t seem so wonderful until you imagine being without it.


What George Bailey realized was that he really did have a wonderful, joyous life. I love the final scene when the bell on the Christmas tree rings and Zuzu says, “Look, Daddy, teacher said every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” I say it with little Zuzu every year! Yes, Clarence got his wings! Yes, we really do have a wonderful life. Yes, there is joy enough for you and for me!


Reminds me of the song: Joy Bells Keep Ringing in my Soul! In spite of my circumstance, in spite of affliction, there’s a joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. And for those who call on the name of Jesus, we really are the richest people in the world. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength!


And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:9-10


This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, and we will continue our Advent Sermon Series - The Unfolding: Unfolding Joy! Remember, there’s no need to register for worship! If you cannot worship with us in-house, you can also join us online at 10:00am. For online worship go to www.umcgt.org.


Join me for our next State of the Church, on tomorrow, December 11, at 9:30 am. We’ll be in the sanctuary. This is your opportunity to hear an update on church finances and governance.


Advent Adventures begin on this Sunday, December 12, 5:30-7:30pm! The Scavenger Hunt Angels will return, along with caroling, cocoa, and some other surprises.


Christmas Eve Worship will be one service this year at 5:00pm. The children will sing, we will take Communion together, and light our candles as we celebrate that holy night.


May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Linda

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