Sermon By Terry Siverd /December 18, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Jeannie and I are planning to be out of town for the latter part of January and perhaps February.
Betina is flying in to Cleveland on January 10th and shortly thereafter we will be driving to Pensacola, FL.,
with plans to vacation in January near Gulf Shores, Alabama Betina's youngest son George recently
graduated from Marine's boot camp in San Diego and is now stationed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
With next Sunday morning bringing Christmas day our plans are as follows. We'll not meet for Bible class.
Our worship hour that morning will begin as usual shortly after 10am and should conclude no later than 11:15.
In addition to our gathering 'round the Table for the Lord's Supper, our candlelight worship will consist
of an intermingling of Christmas hymns and readings from the Scriptures related to the birth of Jesus.
This will be an inter-generational assembly with the children remaining with the adults in “the sanctuary”.
On this Sunday before Christmas I want to expound a bit more on the thoughts from
last Sunday's sermon, Seasoned With Joy. I have titled today's sermon, Glad Tidings.
Luke's gospel account tells of the visit of the shepherds in conjunction with the birth of Jesus.
After Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, Jesus was born and Lk.2:8-11 records - -
And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their
flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared stood before them, and the glory of
the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them,
'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;
for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The title of our sermon derives from Lk.2:10 - - I bring you good news of a great joy!
The KJV translates this verse as follows - - I bring you tidings of great joy!
Dr. Howard Edington, a preacher, writes about a terrible vacation that he and his wife Trisha experienced.
It started out well but then unraveled. The church called to tell them that the parsonage where they had been
living was sold after just 10 days on the market and the new owners wanted to take occupancy in just two weeks.
That meant they'd have to cut their vacation short and return home and quickly pack up their belongings and move.
Furthermore, the condo they had targeted was not anywhere ready for occupancy. To add insult to injury,
Howard's back went out and Trisha had to drive the ten hours home with him stretched out on the back seat
with their dog and cat. Thankfully, with the help of others, they were able to move into the condo promptly.
Two days later, while still on “vacation”, Howard was scheduled to speak for the Central Florida Campaign for Community Values in Orlando. Since the car was still laden with boxes from the move, Trisha offered to drive Howard to his speaking engagement and while he was speaking she'd unload boxes from the car into their new home. While doing so, someone walked in off the street and stole their car from the garage in broad daylight at 9am on a busy street. Trisha was hoping this news wouldn't be make the newspaper, but it did - - along with with her name and age (51.
Howard related the story of another preacher who was traveling by an old steam-locomotive in southern Georgia.
The train stopped in a small town to take on water and the preacher got out to stretch his legs during the layover.
The preacher spotted an old-timer whittling on a stick and asked him, “Does anybody around here enjoy religion?”
The old-timer shuffled his feet and replied: “Them that has does!”. While his brief sentence was a grammatical mutilation of the English language they rang with truth: those who have true religion are radiantly joyful people.
One of hallmark's of genuine faith is being able to laugh and smile, and maintain a sense of joy no matter what the circumstances. Remember the predicament Paul was in when he penned his letter to the Philippians. cf. Acts 16:22ff. Yet he writes in Philp.4:4 - - Rejoice in the Lord always!.
Sadly, many of us Christians had not made this discovery. They don't think of the faith as a source of joy.
They may appear to be pious but they're not real happy. They may be seen as dedicated but they're not joyful.
Their faith is seldom a source of gladness much less a never-ending fountain of joy.
One little boy who was taken to church by his rather stern grandmother smiled at his friend during church.
His grandma scolded him whispering, “Quit grinning...You don't smile like that in church.”
The question before us this morning is this - - Isn't authentic Christianity meant to be JOYFUL?
William Spooner, an Oxford professor, once introduced his sermon titled “Cheerful Tidings”. He misspoke, announcing his topic as, “Tearful Chidings”. He became famous for his “spoonerism”. My wife uttered one this past week.
In referencing a news item about Prince Harry and Meghan, Jeannie referred to “Marry and Hegan”.
Tragically, for many “tearful chidings” is far too often associated with sermons and church-going.
If we are abundantly blessed with glad tidings of great joy, why are we so sullen?
The dominate theme of the sacred writings is GLADNESS.
Nehemiah declares, The joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh.8:10).
Even in the midst of suffering, Job cries out, God will put laughter into your mouth and joy on your lips (Job8:21).
Though he struggled, Isaiah wrote, I will greatly rejoice in my God, and I will be joyful in my Lord (Isa.61:10).
The psalmists are full of joy. cf. Ps.5:11 & Ps.28:7.
The New Testament begins and ends with joy. cf. Lk.2:10 and Rev.22:1-5.
INDEED, THE BIBLE IS A RADIANTLY JOYFUL BOOK!!
In spite of all his perils, Paul sums things up with one of the briefest verses in the Bible: Rejoice always! (1Thess.5:16).
Jesus was many things, but He was certainly not a kill-joy. In spite of being a “man of sorrows”, He was not forlougn
and gloomy. Jesus exuded happiness and joy. Children flocked to Jesus, not because He was somber and severe, but
because He radiated joy! Jesus' joyful personality drew others to Him by the thousands. As Howard Edington notes,
(Jesus) was the life of the party. The NT delineates instances of where the Pharisees “attacked” Jesus.
Why? They were disgruntled because Jesus and His disciples seemed to be having such a good time.
Even when facing crucifixion, Heb.12:2 declares, for the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross.
I agree with Dr. Edington's assessment: (Jesus) was the brightest, warmest, happiest, sunniest soul who ever lived.
The famous composer Joseph Haydn was once asked by a friend why his church music was filled with such GLADNESS.
He replied, “It cannot be otherwise. I write the thoughts that I feel, and when I think of my God,
my heart is filled with such joy that the notes literally leap and dance from my pen.
Because God has given me a cheerful heart, I must serve Him with a CHEERFUL SPIRIT.”
This past week I saw an older man at the Vienna Dollar General. Standing by the entry door with his Bible opened on a storage crate, he looked weathered and worn. Missing several front teeth, he appeared to have had a very rough life. When a lady exited the store he turned to her and began to speak with his Bible opened. Suddenly, almost magically,
he seemed to be transformed as his eyes lit up a big smile adorned his face. His genuine joy was a beauty to behold.
How wonderful life would be if we could all capture or re-capture this spirit of joy and get on
with the privilege of being bearers of glad tidings to those all around us.
Note: Many of the thoughts presented in this sermon were borrowed from Dr. Howard Edington.
His thought-provoking writings can be accessed via the website: thewordmadefresh.org