Sermon on Joy
December 24th 2006
Today is the 4th Sunday in Advent where we celebrate the arrival of the greatest gift ever given to humankind and hopefully begin preparing room in our hearts and lives for the second coming of this King of Kings—Jesus the Christ!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Over the past four weeks we have examined four of the gifts we celebrate with the coming of Jesus—Hope—Peace—Love—and Joy. Today’s topic is Joy! Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
My friend Mr. Webster whom I use quite often to advise me what you are sometimes talking about defines Joy as “to experience great pleasure or delight—a state of happiness—and the expression of that emotion.”
However, I sometimes wonder if the Church realizes that Joy is a gift that Christ gave to all of us and Joy is a gift that belongs in the church. Robert Louis Stevenson the great writer and poet used to keep a diary and in one entry he writes, “I have been to Church today and surprisingly I am not depressed.”
I grew up in the church and how I became a pastor is beyond me. I can’t stand wearing black shirts with black pants. Sure maybe I’m ready for a funeral to bury the dead, but I don’t feel prepared to proclaim the good news and influence the living.
When I was younger I thought church was punishment. I had to get all dressed up and then I had to be quiet. The people around me looked like they had lost their best friend. They didn’t seem to know how to smile or show joy.
I remember my brother and I would sit in pew and pass gas just so we would have something to smile about. So now if I see any of you smiling I’ll have a good idea what you are doing.
Some claim you must give up everything to be a Christian, but Christ only ask us to give up what is sinful. The fullness of Christ’s love was never designed to make anyone sad. It doesn’t say in John, “I came so that you might have sadness.” It says, “I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
If real joy is to experience great pleasure or delight what better place than church should one express that emotion? After all it is only thru Jesus Christ that one can have meaningful joy.
Joy is not found in temporal things in life. The most miserable people I have know have not been those who suffered from catastrophes, but those who had everything they wanted, except the power to enjoy it.
True joy is not found in pleasure, money, or military might. Lord Byron lived a life of sinful pleasure but wrote, “I am full of nothing but regrets and grief.” Jay Gould an American billionaire said on his death bed, “I suppose I am the most miserable man one earth.” Alexander the Great conquered the known world and having done so he wept saying, “There are no more worlds to conquer.”
Joy is a gift from God. This entire book is a story about Joy climaxing with the birth of Jesus Christ. From the Hebrew Scriptures to the Greek Revelation the Bible is all about God coming into our lives and then going out into the world with Joy.
Did you know the small nation of Israel with the Hebrew language has more words for joy and rejoicing than any other language?
There are 27 different words used in the Hebrew Scriptures for some aspect of joy. “You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16. Our worship sees God as the source of all joy—even in times of struggle and conflict—God comes in Joy comes out!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego rejoiced even though they were being thrown into a fiery furnace. Why? Because they knew they were coming out!
Daniel rejoiced when they bound him and threw him into a den of hungry lions. Why? Because he knew he was coming out!
Paul and Silas rejoiced when they were arrested and thrown into prison. Why? Cause they knew they were coming out!
People who trust in God and place their hope in Christ can live their lives in Joy no matter what the world throws our way. Why? Because we know we are coming out! We can see and hear things in a different light. What a gift!
We become sort of like my dog Nebo.
I have a dog whistle. When I blow it no one can hear a thing but Nebo. Her ears pop up and she comes running. She hear things that we don’t hear. Nebo is on a different frequency.