Worship, Sunday, Dec 11, 2022
      • Bible Trivia
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  • Candles Glowing, Promise Showing
  • Joyful Joyful We Adore You
  • How Great Our Joy
  • Joy To The World
      • Matthew 11.2-4ESV

      • Matthew 11.5-6ESV

      • Matthew 11.7-8ESV

      • Matthew 11.9-10ESV

      • Matthew 11.11ESV

  • This morning we lit the candle of Joy. We receive Christmas cards with the word JOY prominently written across the front. We sings carols with the word Joy in them. And yet...
    And yet… for many the holiday season is not one that is necessarily a happy time. Many this season will experience their first holiday season without a loved one present. For many the holiday season coming at the end of the year only reminds them of the difficult year this past year has been. For many the season only reminds them of past holiday seasons of loss and grief. For many the holiday season is a difficult time - others might have friends and family to gather with but for them it’s a lonely time, friends have their own families but because of their life circumstances they don’t have anyone with whom to share the holiday.
    We all experience the holidays differently. As I stand here this morning, Christmas morning is only two weeks away. How many have their shopping done? How many have all their decorating done? How many have written their Christmas cards already? Okay, if you’re not able to positively answer any of these questions, you’re not alone. I haven’t even started. I got our tree the morning we had the snow last week, and it ended up buried in the front yard. I have a wreath on the door, but that’s the only decorating I’ve done so far. I too feel behind, so you’re not alone - and many, many are in the same boat.
    I read passages like those we’ve read this morning, especially our Gospel reading with lines like, Matthew 11:4-6
    Matthew 11:4–6 (ESV)
    “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
    and I get goosebumps. I think of members of our congregation who deal with vision issues and I read, “the blind receive their sight!” and I so wish that for them. In my current state having lost the hearing in my ear just a month ago I wonder, “the deaf hear?” That sounds good to me. (pun intended). I think of people like my friend John bound to a wheel chair due to MS when I read, “the lame walk,” and I think Hallelujah!
    And yet we live in that intermediary time - members of our church continue to suffer with vision issues, my hearing has not yet returned, and my friend John remains in his wheelchair. So, where is the Christmas Joy in that?
    Are we supposed to simply be happy just because…we’re Christians?
    Well first of all I think there is a difference between being happy, and having joy. Joy is closely related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more of a state of being than an emotion; a result of choice. It’s one’s of the fruits of the Spirit:
    Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    Joy is part of the experience of being a Christian.
    In the midst of the Christmas season - of the advent season in which as we discussed last week we are experiencing three different types of advent - The celebration of Jesus coming to earth as a baby some 2000 years ago; the expectation of Jesus’ return sometime in the future, and the coming of Jesus into our hearts which you and I experience in the here and now.
    During the Christmas season, this season of Advent, it would be good for each of us to take at least some time to step back and reflect upon the season, and the reason for the season as we move forward.

    JOY: A Matter of Priorities

    We hear that phrase a lot, “the reason for the season,” and we know that is Jesus - but what does that mean?
    So we’re going to use the acronym “J.O.Y.” today as a way of reflecting not only on the season, but on the word JOY as part of our advent wreath, and our journey towards our celebration of Christmas.
    Clearly, the reason for the season is JESUS, and that’s the J in our acronym:
    J - Jesus
    J is for Jesus.
    Why is Jesus the reason for the season? What is it about Jesus?
    Jesus is the one that is our priority.
    Matthew 4:19 NIV84
    “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
    Matthew 11:28–29 ESV
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
    It’s not just about Jesus being born in a manger, and coming to earth as the Messiah, the fulfillments of hundreds of prophecies made hundreds of years before, it becomes all about Jesus.
    Who did Jesus say he was? Think of all the “I AM” announcements.
    I AM...
    “...the bread of life,” John 6:35.
    “...the light of the world,” John 8:12.
    “...the door,” John 10:7.
    “...the good shepherd,” John 10:11.
    “...the resurrection and the life,” John 11:25.
    “...the way, the truth and the life,” John 14:6.
    "...the true vine,” John 15:1.
    This is not just simply a babe that was born to us. Jesus is the one who set for us the example as Paul reminds us that we are to live as Jesus did by giving us quite a list in Philippians 2:5-8.
    Philippians 2:5-8.
    emptied himself - v.7
    take the form of a servant - v.7
    humbled himself - v. 8
    obedient - v. 8
    Having Joy means putting Jesus first and his priorities:
    Matthew 6:33 ESV
    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    So our first priority in having JOY is Jesus. Our Second Priority in our acronym is: Others
    J - Jesus
    O - Others
    Jesus when he was asked what the greatest commandment was answered the teacher of the Law with this:
    Matthew 22:37–38 ESV
    And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
    but he didn’t stop there,
    Matthew 22:39 ESV
    And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    One of the primary things that Jesus taught us was the concern and care for others - for those around us.
    During the Christmas season we are often thinking of others: We make our Christmas gift lists, our Christmas card lists, many of us make end of the year donations to charities that serve others, etc. Jesus’ demonstrated in the way that He lived that His life was not to seek accolades, but to truly serve.
    Last week we celebrated Communion remembering the Lord’s Last Supper, a time where he gathered with his disciples to remember what the Lord had done in the past, but also a time where he demonstrated what for his disciples servanthood and what it means to serve. John records that During the supper, Jesus...
    John 13:4–5 ESV
    rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
    This is at the last supper, this is when Jesus was revealing himself and for us to serve. He tells us in John 13:14
    John 13:14 ESV
    If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
    But it’s more than just loving one another, it’s about loving our neighbor. And the example of love that stands out for all of us comes from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
    1 Corinthians 13:4–7 ESV
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    This is love, not just towards those who believe as we do, but to others as well.
    And that brings us to our final part of JOY and a part I think that we sometimes miss. Remember the second greatest commandment?
    Matthew 22:39 ESV
    And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
    Yes, the last part of JOY is YOU
    J - Jesus
    O - Others
    Y - You
    One of the key concepts that our first responders live by is that if they get injured, or worse - killed, while attempting to lend aid they are of no use to the person they are trying to help.
    This goes with our service and love of others as well. We need to be taking care of ourselves. Though it is true that Jesus healed on the sabbath (clearly a form of work which upset the Pharisees), he also set the example of observing the Sabbath.
    A popular t-shirt says, “Jesus took naps; be more like Jesus.”
    Look at how often Jesus withdrew from the crowds he was ministering to, and there are several times we read that he went somewhere by himself, separating himself for time to pray, withdrawing because the crowd is against him.
    Jesus practiced self-care. We get caught up in being human doing’s and not beings. For us to be fully present, we need to take the time to care for ourself.
    How do we do that? I believe the examples are there in our Scriptures and in Jesus example. In the 10 commandments the fourth commandment is the Sabbath.
    Exodus 20:8 ESV
    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    The way we keep it holy is to focus on God
    Jesus said, as we’ve already read this morning: Matthew 11:28
    Matthew 11:28 ESV
    Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
    Think of all the times Jesus took the time to pray - that is self care. Laying our burdens before God, as we studied a couple weeks ago, and even last week as we talked about peace,
    Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
    do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    Our communing with God is clearly a form of self-care. Connecting with our Creator is grounding ourselves in the one that created us. When we do that we are reminded of all the things we celebrate in Christianity:
    Love, forgiveness, renewal.
    You and I are not the person we once were.
    I heard a sermon recently where the pastor talked about how the deceiver will continue to remind us of our past- the mistakes we’ve made, the hateful words we have said, the times we lost our temper. But God reminds us of our present and our future: “You’re not the person you once were, you’re a child of God, you’re being made new!”
    This is the good news and the source of our JOY during the Christmas season.
    As your pastor, as a fellow follower of the Lord Jesus, as your friend, I want to let you know that it’s okay to “withdraw” from all the hustle of this season. There is no one requiring you to be at every party. I want you to truly experience the JOY of the season.
    J - Jesus
    O - Others
    Y - You
    That is what Christmas Joy is, it’s a matter of Priorities. Jesus comes first, then others, then yourself. In saying that, remember it’s not Christmas JO, It’s JOY. And it’s a repetitive list of priorities, not a “to-do” list where you check off one at a time. It’s a cyclical process.
    Three priorities.
    May you experience the JOY of Christmas this season.
    Let me Pray for you:

    JOY: A Matter of Priorities

      • Galatians 5:22–23ESV

      • Matthew 4:19ESV

      • Matthew 11:28–29ESV

      • Matthew 6:33ESV

      • Matthew 22:37–38ESV

      • Matthew 22:39ESV

      • John 13:4–5ESV

      • John 13:14ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 13:4–7ESV

      • Matthew 22:39ESV

      • Exodus 20:8ESV

      • Matthew 11:28ESV

      • Philippians 4:6–7ESV

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  • Angels We Have Heard On High
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