Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dare to Rejoice


 
Pastor Jerry began his Sunday sermon with the reading of Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11 and 2 Thessalonians 5:16-24.

Isaiah 61:1-4 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor; 
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

The Scripture portion in Isaiah was spoken to encourage the people who had been in exile for 40 years and were now returning to Jerusalem from Babylon.  The prophet declared that they needed to rejoice as they approached a devastated Jerusalem.  There was hope to empower and rebuild even in this harsh and difficult time. 
 
We are reminded that many today are disenfranchised and away from “home.”

 
As we read Isaiah we understand this as also prophesying of Jesus coming to earth.


Jesus in his early ministry opened the scroll to this portion and read it aloud to the people as He was speaking of Himself.

In Israel there were desert areas in the south, “Restore and turn again our captivity

Only a remnant returned to Zion, because many were settled in the foreign land.

There is tremendous symbolism in this story, as we can realize that in troubled times we have hope and practice rejoicing in all circumstances.

Often it is hard to rejoice.  We pray for rain, and then comes a flood, and a mountain slide that destroyed many homes.

How can we go through all this without the “Church?”  This is nostalgic also as we prepare for Christmas Coming.  We are reminded of all the blessings through the year and we focus on good memories and rejoice.

Paul in Thessalonians assumes that all he is writing to are Christians.  Yet people go to their job and are busy with their lives.  There is such a thing as rejoicing while working.

When we say, “I am going to Church,” we think of a building.  It is also a spiritual place of Community.  It is still “church” if we meet in a tent, or under a tree.

Many do not want the hierarchy of church life.  Unfortunately there are times that church is toxic and certain ungodly behaviors can drive people away.  Splits can occur and they often don’t make it and the congregation dissolves and many are hurt.  They are put off  by ‘church,’ so they feel they don’t need “church” and decide to go solo.

True believers meet with others of like precious faith, and rejoice together as they serve Christ.  They know there is strength in assembling together to worship and pray.

We do not deny that there is suffering, pains and problems in life, but God sent us a Savior.  We the church reach out and become God’s hands to touch friends with encouragement, kindness of a phone call, e-mail (not quite as nice,) a ride to church, or a bowl of soup.

John Calvin said, “There is not one blade of grass, or color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.

Yes, in life, we may have ongoing struggles, but stir up our slumbering Spirit and Rejoice.

 

2 comments:

  1. Good one, Hazel. We have trouble in this world, but our Savior told us we would. He also told us to rejoice for He overcame this world of fallenness that is temporary for those of us who believe. We certainly have much to celebrate this season and everyday!!!

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  2. Yes, this is truthful. I'm blessed, b/c I have many friends, even here in Omaha, from many different churches and many different "styles"... Pentecostal, Lutheran-- some charismatic and some "normal"-- , Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, International, and a variety of others, including the Bhutanese church I hang out at.. See so many who have turned to and walk with the Lord. For me, that's all that counts. He is "IT". I can rely upon Him, dropping people into my life at the right time, the right way. Thank you for sharing. It's a heart/spirit grabber for me!

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