December 13, 2015
Stetson Memorial UMC
Third Sunday of Advent
Inspired by Marcia McPhee
Sermon Series “Awed and Odd”
Joy in the Midst of Despair
(All Scripture is taken from the NIV Bible)
“I Will Choose Joy…”
Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…
Read “Mary’s Song” found in Luke 1 verse 46-55…
In the world in which we live it is kind of hard finding joy in any off it. How many of you feel the same way? It seems where ever you look there is despair and suffering of some sort. We may even be here in the midst of Advent, when we should be joyful, wondering “why can’t I feel that feeling…you know that feeling that we get each and every other Advent? I know it’s there, I just can’t seem to find it…” It is hard to have joy in the midst of despair whether it be in our lives or in the lives of others.
This advent, we are journeying to the cross by another road than what we may usually travel. We have been traveling a road that at times may have made us squirm a little. We have been inspired by Marcia McPhee’s “Awed & Odd” Sermon series where she states:
“We Christians believe in “folly”–that there is peace, love, joy and hope in the midst of the good and difficult times. This makes us “odd”–according to those who proclaim the victory of decline and death all around. It is especially in this season of expectant hope that we can instead proclaim the awe-inspiring presence of God’s reign that continually makes all things new. This is a season of odd “union”–swords into plowshares, wolves and lambs resting peacefully together, and the “speechless” singing for joy!”
So here we are at the third Sunday of Advent…I don’t know about you but the past couple of weeks has inspired me to open my eyes, take off the blinders and see God in world still working even though broken. We have We talked about seeing peace in the midst of conflict and have decided that even though the world around us may be that God is always working out His plan even if I don’t perceive it. We know because we have seen the light of God working within situations that others might deem hopeless.
We also decided that we are a little “odd” because we are “awed” by God who even in the darkness is there creating order out of chaos. And we decided that we would rather be awed for God even though the world calls us odd.
Last week we talked about…were stretched a little further as we talked about “Love In the Midst Of Hate”. We decided that Jesus, our Risen Lord, is the One to show us the way by the example that He set. With all the despair He saw, He answered with love and healing giving hope to those around Him. We also decided that as Jesus judges and reigns there will be peace in the midst of conflict and no more hate because all there will be love.
So let’s stretch a little further…how about “Joy in the Midst of Despair?” Now I don’t know about you but I find it hard…extremely hard to find anything close to joy in the midst of despair. Now raise your hand if you like being in the midst of despair, either your own or someone else’s? Ok…not so much… This is the odd and awed thing about having joy. It is a choice. That’s right…joy is more of a choice than a feeling that we get. Don’t get me wrong, we do feel but we choose to feel it. Example… we have been waiting for that new job opening to happen and it does. Not only does it open but you are offered the job which means more money, more benefits and more time off…Pretty awesome huh? Now here’s the fun part…how do you react? Audience participation time…
Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a choice to make. She was now pregnant and unwed. Joseph didn’t even know at this point in time. This was not the thing a proper young woman would want. As a matter of fact…who the heck was going to believe that she was “divinely pregnant”? But let’s look at her song…break apart the song stanza by stanza…
We too have our own song for we are the children of God through the grafting that took place on the cross…you know, the cross that the baby we celebrate will climb 33 years later… It is found in Isaiah 61 verses 1-3. Listen to the joy we have because of the love came down from heaven.
Read the scripture…let the Spirit lead in words after.
We really do need eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that is open to what God is doing in the world around us. Then we will be able to see the peace and love that is evident to all who seek love. We will have joy even though there is despair around us. But it begins here (touch chest) and here (touch eyes). As we have an open Heart and lead by the Spirit of God we will use eyes of love and grace as we seek the love of God in the world around us. We will know the joy of our salvation and share that joy with others so that they too will see the light of day at the end of the tunnel that is created by the world. We will help them…and ourselves…take off those blinders that keep us only looking forward and be open to the surprise of God around us. We will have that unspeakable joy in the midst of despair…
Let us pray…pray for us to awaken and experience and see the joy of the Lord in the midst of despair…