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Joy

By on December 16, 2018

Scripture: Luke 2:8-14
Rev. Laura Brewster

Introduction
Advent is a season used to prepare for a joyful celebration of Christmas and to prepare for the day that Christ will come again (Parousia). In centuries past, when churches focused more on the second purpose, preparing for the Parousia, the tone in church serves was somber and Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Today our focus will also be on joy.

Scriptures
Read Luke 2:8-14 and Philippians 4:4. As we read the scripture today, take note of references to joy.

Joy in the New Testament
Joy pervades the story of the Messiah’s birth. When Mary reflected on the privilege of carrying the Christ child, she sang with joy. When Mary visited her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth said, “As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.” (Luke 1:44) After Jesus is born, angels share the joyful news with shepherds. Later wisemen visited Jesus, and they felt joy. Joy is not limited to this biblical event. The word joy and joyful are used 70 times in the New Testament. Some of those references are a challenge for us to be people of joy. In First Thessalonians we read: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:16-18)

What Is Joy?
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that is dependent on circumstances. Joy comes from our relationship with God, and a quiet joy can remain with us in spite of changing circumstances. Moreover, joy can be cultivated.

We Cultivate Joy When We Choose to Trust in God
We cultivate joy when we remember that our God is a powerful and caring God in whom we can trust. Mary understood that. When Mary sang her song – the Magnificat – she sang about a future event. She sang about how God would transform the world through the Messiah. Mary had absolute trust in God’s future action based on her understanding that God is both a powerful and caring God. We too are called to understand and celebrate that our God is a powerful and caring God that can be trusted regardless of the circumstances currently at hand.

We cultivate joy when we change our perspective
We all face difficulties in life. We cannot control all that happens to us. However, we do have control regarding our response. We can choose to focus solely on the difficulty at hand, or we can look for signs of God’s presence with us and God’s grace toward us in the midst of the struggle. If we choose the former, we will fall into despair. If we choose the latter, we are reminded that we are not alone and we are able to move forward with hope and joy.

We Cultivate Joy By Aligning With God’s Purposes
Finally, we cultivate joy by aligning ourselves with God’s will and works. When we work with God to share love and light with others, we are blessed in the process. Rev. King Duncan writes, “Joy has a way of boomeranging and giving the person who gives it more joy than the one who receives it.”

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Contemporary Worship 9:00am - Sunday Study Groups 10:10am - Traditional Worship 11:00am

7050 Village Center Drive, Austin, TX 78731 512.345.1743 info@NWHillsUMC.org