Summary: WHEN WE DISCOVER THE WONDERFUL LIFE, CELEBRATING OUR FAITH BECOMES NATURAL
Celebrating Our Faith
12/21/08 4th Sunday of Advent
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
During the 2007-2008 NFL regular season, New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady set the record for most touchdown passes in a regular season, paving the way for his winning the MVP award. At the age of 30, he has already won three Super Bowls--an accomplishment that sets him apart as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
In 2005, Tom Brady was interviewed by 60 Minutes journalist Steve Kroft. Despite the fame and career accomplishments he had achieved already, Brady told Kroft that it felt like something was still lacking in his life:
Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what [it's all about].' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me? I think, 'It's got to be more than this.' I mean this isn't--this can't be--all it's cracked up to be."
Kroft pressed Brady as to what the right answer was, and Brady added:
What's the answer? I wish I knew... I love playing football, and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I'm trying to find.
T.S. You would think that Tom Brady arguably the best quarterback alive today would be able to rejoice, but without faith even in great circumstances he finds it hard to rejoice. He's worth 15 million. He has three superbowl rings. Yet he's searching.
T.S. George Bailey on the other hand is facing financial ruin, disgrace probably prison, but when he encounters real faith Joy is His natural reaction.
When George discovers it's a wonderful life he is filled with joy.
WHEN WE DISCOVER THE WONDERFUL LIFE, CELEBRATING OUR FAITH BECOMES NATURAL.
T.S. Turn with me this morning to Phil. 4 and lets discover how to celebrate our faith.
Key Verse 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Cultivate the Joy
4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
* This s a double command. We think joy is a spontaneous emotion. It's not, it is an attitude that we cultivate.
At the heart of Christianity, what we find is neither a philosophy nor a system of morality, but a gospel: good news.... "
* It is the appropriate response of the believer to the "good tidings of great joy" which constitute the gospel (Luke 2:10).
* It is both exemplified in the life and character, and set forth in the teaching of Jesus. His description of Himself as bridegroom, in defense f His disciples for not fasting (Mark 2:18-20); the fact that He came "eating and drinking," His mentions of "my joy" (John 15:11; 17:13).
The Christmas story is a miracle.
Albert Einstein said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."
We take the Christmas story for granted because we've heard it so many times, but God could have announced the birth of his Son any way he wanted. Why did God do it the way he did it?
Max Lucado has an interesting take. He says:
Had the angel gone to theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars. So he went to shepherds--Men who didn't have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn't know enough to tell God that angels don't sing to sheep and that messiahs aren't found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.
Embrace a theology of mystery.
Saint Chrysostom (c. 347--407), archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking. He said children exhibit an innate sensitivity to mystery, an observation he applied to the Christmas story:
Tell a child the story of Bethlehem, the vigil of the shepherds, the quest of the Magi, the song of the angels and the babe in the manger. He drinks it all in. An adult, similarly situated, opens a discussion on what he is pleased to call the doctrine of the Incarnation. Tell a child the story of the Cross; he accepts it avidly, finding no difficulty anywhere. Relate to an adult the same impressive facts, and he will ask learnedly for a theory of the Atonement.
Express the Joy