Sermon Notes 12.22.19

12-22-19    Sermon Notes                          “The Journey to Joy”
This past Sunday, we lit the pink candle of JOY on our Advent Wreath!  Then in the Celebration worship, we heard about how the Grinch found JOY and “grew” his heart.  In the Traditions worship, we experienced the JOY of our Choir Cantata – Sounds of the Season.
This Sunday, we will continue the JOY theme by looking at the Journey to JOY.  Journey?  Yep.  Joseph and Mary make a journey – a journey from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea – to Bethlehem.  Why the journey?  Because a decree (an order) went out from Caesar that said folks had to go to their hometown to be “registered”…registered so that they could be taxed…maybe even so they could be conscripted into military service for Rome.  Here’s how Luke tells about that journey…

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  (Luke 2: 1-7  NRSV)

The journey also involves shepherds.  The shepherds are staying out in the fields with their flocks.  They get surprised by an angel.  If we have been paying attention to the Christmas Story, we have already come to “expect” an angel making an announcement…first to Zechariah…then to Mary…then Joseph’s dream…  Now the shepherds…

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
 and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
  (Luke 2: 8-14  NRSV)

“Good news of great JOY for all the people…”  Maybe you have already heard that the secret of Christmas JOY lies in the word itself…J-O-Y…  Jesus first, then Others, then You.  What if we made Jesus the first focus of Christmas?  I know that may sound like, “Well, Duh!” – but think about it… We are sometimes guilty of focusing on so many other things at Christmas that Jesus gets lost in the shuffle.  Aren’t we?

And then what if we made “Others” the focus next…made helping someone else have a joyous Christmas our next priority?  We all have problems and stresses, but if we become a blessing to someone else – maybe someone who is bent under a heavy load – then JOY might find its way into Christmas for us.

OK – now the “Y” in JOY…you.  Here is an assignment for “you.”  Sometime between now and Sunday, December 22, take time to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (preferably with someone you love).  It will make sense if you come to Traditions worship.  Or if you choose to come to Celebration worship – take time to watch The Polar Express (again, with someone you love).  Whichever service you attend, bring a friend…and come expectantly to worship.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Sam

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