Stetson Memorial UMC
3rd Sunday of Advent
Sermon Series: “The Invitation”
Psalm 126 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Isaiah 61:1-2, 8-11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Luke 1:46-55Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“An Invitation to Joy…”
The Lord Be with you
and also with you
Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…
Please stand, as you are able, for the reading from the Gospel according to Luke. We are reading chapter 1, verses 46-55. Listen to the Word of God, the Love Sonnet, for you and me, the children of God…
“Ok, so I am offered Hope that I can have a relationship with God because of the invitation that Jesus gives me. The Second part is that I am offered peace. Not the worlds peace, I don’t think this world really knows what that means, but God’s peace that is unshakable…right?” She was really beginning to understand the manger. So, she thought. “Right. But, we are also offered even more than that,” Esther explained. “we are offered joy.” Now Hope had a hard time with this. With the world the way it is, how can one find joy in the midst of it?
“What do you mean joy?” Hope asked. “WE all go around singing Joy to the world and it seems, well kind of naive. This world is full of hate and despair. You just gotta suck it up and deal. There is no way of finding any lasting joy. We may find a little piece of it then WHAM, it’s gone.” Hope explained. “There is no way around it.” “You are right, we can’t find a way around it. But real joy has nothing to do with us…just like piece. It has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with Jesus who came so that we could have hope, peace, and joy. It is only in Him we find it…” Esther tried to clarify for Hope. She could see that Hope felt joyless and wanted her to understand the truth. “I know Jesus cam to give us all this, but I really don’t see how it is possible” Hope wept as she thought of all those she knew who were in pain and suffering. Esther knew she had a hard road ahead with Hope. How was she going to help this girl find what she was missing, even though it was right in front of her face?
1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3 : a source or cause of delight
Joy is a permanent possession while happiness is fleeting. Joy stays, happiness comes and goes. Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is one of the fruits or the results of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You cannot fake joy…you either have it or you don’t.
Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…” The invitation of Advent. We have begun our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.
We have pondered the questions why is this invitation important to you and I? What does this invitation consist of…do we know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? We have even asked the hard question if we “Christians”, are even aware of the joyous gift we are given and if we even accept the whole gift not just part. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”
Last week, I asked you...and I… to do something truly radical. Something I feel is necessary for our journey. To empty our baggage, we carry at the door of Advent and walk through the door with empty suitcases. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe at times.
We began with the first invitation of the “The Invitation” which is “an invitation to Hope.” Now I am talking about the Hope of the invitation… it is a hope of restoration with and to God. We talked about how the Israelites were leading a double life, giving God “lip service” instead of “life service”. They talked a great talk about God but behind the scenes they were bowing down to idols of the culture. Sounds familiar to us…praise God for His restoration project that began in the manger…we now have hope in ad through Jesus Christ…
And as we came closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” Fear can keep us from some of the awesome things in life because we are afraid to take the first step. Fear of the unknown… But as we approach we are offered second invitation, “An Invitation to Peace”. This peace has nothing to do with our situation but has everything to do with the Peace Maker lying in the manger. As we trust and have peace within us, we don’t tend to worry and that peace we bring into our lives and we are able to live peaceably with our neighbors…kind of like a for-taste of the Peaceable Kingdom, we can have that glimpse of the “Peaceable Kingdom” that will happen with Christ’s return.
“The Invitation” does not stop there. There is much more that it offers. Now how many of you have joy in their lives? What gives you that joy…how do you sustain that joy? Give time to answer. In life, we have our difficulties. It can be hard to find joy. We look at the world round us and world around and see we may feel despair and even anger for what humanity does to each other and what it does to itself. Where is the joy?
In “The Invitation” of the manger, within the invitation of Advent, we are offered Joy. This morning we heard a song of Joy from Mary. She had just been told that she would bare the Holy One of Israel. She was a humble girl. She was a girl from a priestly line, so she knew about the promised savior.
Now in her situation, I think I may have been a little scared…maybe unhappy. Here I am, an unwed teenager, and now I am being told I am going to be pregnant, and my betrothed was not going to be the father. I would have to try to explain I was not unfaithful and that the child was going to be God’s child. Well in that day and time it would not have gone well for me. I would be told I was a liar and maybe even stoned to death. Where is the joy in that? But Mary rose above all of this and fond the Joy in her savior. She sang what I believe one of the most trusting, joyous, beautiful songs to God. Mary’s joy was found in the manger…the Savior of the world. That is where true joy comes from…everything else is just icing on the cake…
As Mary, we too can find true joy that has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the Anointed One who one day bring about the “Peaceable Kingdom.” Listen to these words from Isaiah and take hold of the Joy within it…It may sound very familiar to Mary’s song…
Isaiah 61:1-2Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
61 The Spirit of Adonai Elohim is upon me,
because Adonai has anointed me
to announce good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted;
to proclaim freedom to the captives,
to let out into light those bound in the dark;
2 to proclaim the year of the favor of Adonai
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn,
Isaiah 61:8-11Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
8 “For I, Adonai, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offerings.
So I will be faithful to reward them
and make an eternal covenant with them.”
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations,
their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them will acknowledge
that they are the seed Adonai has blessed.
10 I am so joyful in Adonai!
My soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in salvation,
dressed me with a robe of triumph,
like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban,
like a bride adorned with her jewels.
11 For just as the earth brings forth its plants,
or a garden makes its plants spring up,
so Adonai, God, will cause victory and glory
to spring up before all nations.
This is the cause for our joy…this lies within “The Invitation.” We are clothed in Salvation, we are given the robe of triumph…of righteousness, we are beautifully adorned…we are the seed of Adonai…Joy unspeakable.
Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more.
Found within “The Invitation” we have “An Invitation to Peace”, the peace beyond all understanding. This peace has nothing to do with you or I and how we are feeling but it has to do exclusively with the One who offers it. He is the One who says, “Come near the manger and be set free…Come and accept the offer of the invitation to come and see…Come and have life eternally…Come without fear and trust in Me. Come and feel the Joy uncontainable joy I have to offer.”
+Maybe…just maybe…we can have joy in a world full of despair. Perhaps as we focus on the manger and all that it stands for we will be able to understand and recieve what it has to offer. I would like to leave you with some something to consider…It is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
16 Always be joyful. 17 Pray regularly. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua.
19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages. 21 But do test everything — hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil.
23 May the God of shalom make you completely holy — may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 24 The one calling you is faithful, and he will do it.
“Joy to the World the Lord Has Come. Let Earth Receive Her King”