Summary: A sermon about joy versus happiness.

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Romans 16:25-27

“Changing Thermometers”

A British medical doctor shared a story about his interaction with Doris, an 82-year-old hospital patient.

Two days before Christmas, Doris appeared to be healthy and ready to be discharged.

But for some reason she kept complaining about unexplainable health issues.

The doctor wrote, “Yesterday it was her arm that was hurting, before that her hip.

Truth is, Doris is an incredibly healthy 82-year-old, and we can’t find anything wrong.

I have no doubt that it will be the same today.”

When the tests came back normal, the doctor told Doris that he would have to stick to the plan of sending her home.

Doris looked down at the floor and quietly said, “I don’t want to go home…

…It’s just that I’m all alone and there are so many hours in the day.”

Then, after a long pause, she sighed and asked, “Doctor, can you give me a cure for loneliness?”

The doctor reflected on this:

“I wish I could say yes.

I wish I could prescribe something for her.

It’s just that she has been left behind by a world that no longer revolves around her, not even the littlest bit.

There are thousands like her, men and women, for whom time stands empty as they wait in homes full of silence.

They are no longer coveted by a society addicted to youth.”

He finished up, “Doris is alone, and it brings home the truth of this epidemic that we have on our hands—and epidemic of loneliness…

…sheepishly I insist that Doris spends her Christmas this year on the ward, and I can see her mood lift.

But I steel myself for the inevitable influx of unwanted grandparents whom I know will arrive, I cannot help but wonder how it is that things could have gone so badly wrong.”

How is it that things have gone so badly wrong?

And you know, it is not just the elderly who feel the sense of loneliness, isolation and meaninglessness.

Teenagers are particularly prone to these kinds of feelings, even as they are surrounded by a classroom full of other kids.

And adults, living with relationship problems and a life fixated on the acquisition of material wealth find themselves awkwardly, surprisingly and sadly alone.

Is there a cure for this sadness, this melancholy, this alone-ness?

The Christmas Season is a time of hopeful anticipation, but it begins with the acknowledgement of human despair.

We are all sinners in need of a Savior.

Left to our own devices, we find life unbearable.

Yet the message of Christmas is “God is with us.”

And because of this…

…because of all that God has done and all that God continues to do in and through Jesus Christ, life can be much more than a lonely existence filled with unfilled hours of nothing-ness.

Our Scripture lesson is a joy-filled “word of glory” praising God for the greatest of all gifts!!!

And isn’t this what we all need most on this Sunday before Christmas…

…as so many of us yearn to move beyond worldly worries and constraints into the joyful praise that God’s goodness and generosity bring?

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