Joy Comes in the Morning

by Rev. L. John Gable and Rev. Oscar Clavel

Joy Comes in the Morning by Rev. L. John Gable and Rev. Oscar Clavel
December 25, 2016

Vs 1:(sing) Joy to the World, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing; and heaven and nature sing; and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

             After rehearsing for the Christmas program at church, a little boy who had been given the part of the angel asked his mother what “tidings” meant.  “News”, she told him.  He liked that simple answer, then continued to practice his one and only line.  “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”  Over and over he practiced that line, but when the lights dimmed for the program, every word of his announcement vanished, and he panicked.  The shepherds were in place “keeping watch over their flocks by night” and it was time for him to enter the scene, but try as he may he could not remember his line.  Slowly he walked across the platform, trying desperately to remember what to say, when suddenly he remembered his mother’s words and joyfully shouted out, “Boy, have I got good news for you!”

Anyway you put it, this is the message of the angels and the bold and joyful proclamation of the Christmas morning and of the Christian faith: Joy to the World, the Lord has come!  In the birth of Jesus Christ, the birth we celebrate this day, JOY has come in to the world, a JOY given not just to Mary and Joseph – the kind of joy which any newborn brings to their expectant parents; not just to the shepherds who were fortunate enough to be “abiding out in their fields” near Bethlehem that night; not just to the magi who saw the star shining in the west and made their journey to find Him and worship Him; not even just to those who were blessed to hear Him preach and teach or to feel His healing touch.  No, this JOY is for every man and woman and child, in every time and place, of every nation and tongue, and this Good News has echoed down through the centuries to you and to me today.  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Yet how are we to respond to this kind of “Good News of Great Joy which has come to all the people”?  Like any gift which we may be offered, this Gift given to us by God is intended to be received and accepted.   “Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth receive her King.”

Last evening we were reminded of the quote from St. Augustine as he says, “This birth is always happening, but if it happens not in me what does it profit me?  What matters is that it shall happen in me?”

God’s deepest desire is that each one of us will open our hearts and receive the Gift He has given to us in Jesus Christ: the gift of His hope and peace and love and joy, the gift of His grace and salvation.  And in our accepting and believing that Jesus really is the God’s gift of Himself to us we join with the whole of heaven and earth in worship and song.

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!” (Gable)

Vs. 2 (sing) Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!  Let all, their songs employ, While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

The young student sat in the pastor’s office and asked, “How long have you been pastoring?”

“Well, let’s see, about 25 years, give or take,” said the pastor.

“Is it hard, does it ever become overwhelming.”

“I guess, like anything in life, it has its ups and downs,” responded the pastor kindly.

Then the student asked the questions he had been waiting to ask, “So after 25 years, what do you preach about? I mean, hasn’t everything been said that could be said about the gospel?”

The pastor smiled and with a spark in his eyes answered, “In some ways yes, but the gospel isn’t a once you hear it you’re done, it needs to be repeated to fully appreciate and capture it.”

Years later, that same college student asked his supervisor, “So what do you preach over after all these years?” The pastor responded, “The gospel is a lot like the symphony, you return to the melody time and time again.”

Repeat, return to, or as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “it is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you,” the gospel is a song that continually repeats in the heart of the Christian.

There is something captivating and convicting about the gospel message that Jesus is our King and Savior.  The more we hear it, the more it works into our hearts. The more we hear it, the more we think about it and find ourselves changed. Sure, there is something to be said about repetition, ask any parent how many times they had to repeat a command to their children and it can take a few tries. However, we are not dealing with commands, we are talking about life and spirit. Perhaps, the reason we need to hear the gospel message again and again, is not because we are sinners who forget. I think it’s because we know there is always something more to be learned, something more to appreciate. Haven’t you been amazed how after reading a scripture verse, or hearing a sermon over a familiar passage, again months or years later, it speaks something different to you. It’s as if the gospel peeked into your life, at that moment, and had something to say about it. However, the gospel is more than a teacher, and it is more than wise words from sages. We return to the gospel message because it is ultimately alive, behind the words and even in the words themselves we encounter Jesus Christ. He is familiar, he is gentle, and we never tire of hearing from him because the greatest change in our lives, the most courageous acts of our lives, the greatest loves we have held all come from his leading and directing voice. So, yes, let’s repeat his words with resounding joy again and again because our Lord reigns! (Clavel)

            Vs. 3(sing) No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found.

             All of human history can be divided in to two great eras: time before the coming of Christ and time after the coming of Christ.  This day, this birth marks that dividing line, and whether the contrast between the two is great or not, there is a “before” and an “after” in our lives, as well.

The picture of a “before” life is dark and dismal.  It is a life, a world, cut off from God and void of His saving grace.  It is a life of brokenness and disharmony in our relationships with our Creator, with our neighbors, even with ourselves.  It is a world where “sins and sorrows grow, and thorns infest the ground.”  This is a picture of life without Christ, without God, without any hope or joy in the world.  This is a picture of the life from which Jesus came to redeem and save us.

Recall, the name Jesus in Hebrew means “Jehovah saves/God saves”.  Jesus’ name not only tells us who He is, but also what He does.  Jesus saves!  Jesus came to save us from our sins.  He came to save us from ourselves.  He came to rescue us from a life cut-off from God without hope or joy in the world.

“He came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found”.  And how did He do this?  By taking the curse of human sinfulness upon Himself.  The little Child of Bethlehem came to redeem us from our loss by suffering and dying for us and for our salvation.

His name will be called Jesus” announced the angel to Mary, “for He will come to save His people from their sins.”   Had there been no sin we would have had no need for a Savior; yet since we live in a world broken and burdened by sin Jesus had to come.  Jesus had to come and do for us what we could not do for ourselves: namely, to save us.  This is the Good News of the Christmas day: Joy to the world, the Lord is come! (Gable)

Vs. 4 (sing) He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.

 Where is Christmas leading us? What could a young baby teach us about humanity, about world events, about the small square of the world we influence? Maybe not much at first, until we consider the totality of this child’s life. What will his message or heart be about? He’ll show love to God and neighbor unlike any before seen. Service will be his heartbeat. His message will be unique, time and again he will say, “Repent for the Kingdom of God has come.” Christmas is the inauguration date of that kingdom. The day that God said, enough is enough, sin will not be the master over humanity, and hate will not be the natural way of life. His Kingdom is not of this world but we can begin to participate in it with love, truth and grace.

These three words are not just thoughts, or philosophical quandaries, they are by nature actions. As we look at Jesus’ life, he demonstrated what he taught. When he befriended the sick, he said, “love one another.” When others judged him because of the company he kept he said, “God did not come for those who are well, but for those in need of God’s grace.” When asked by a woman what was the meaning of life, he said, “I have living waters that never end.

Jesus shows us that the meaning of his birth, much like his life and Kingdom was to take all the things that God is: love, grace, and truth and embody them.

I once heard a couple arguing say these infamous words, “I don’t need to hear that you love me, I want you to show me.” Even at this heart level, we know that our love, truth and grace must be embodied for another to hear it.

This Christmas day is like the beginning of the life we are called to live. It is a repetition, it is Good News, it is pure joy that Jesus Christ was born today. And because of that we once again sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Amen and Amen. (Clavel)

Vs. 1 (sing) Joy to the World, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing; and heaven and nature sing; and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.