Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Dec 24, 2016 Sermon

“Laughter”
Luke 2:1 – 19
Ted Jansen  December 24, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        Let’s join together and sing the chorus of “Jingle Bells.”

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way, Oh what fun it is to ride, In a one-horse open sleigh, hey.  Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way, Oh what fun it is to ride, In a one-horse open sleigh.”

 

2.)        Do you have a guess at how old that song is?  (169 years old)  “Jingle Bells” was written by Pastor James Pierpoint.  It is believed to be written for a Thanksgiving program at church.  The song was so popular that the congregation asked to have the children repeat it at Christmas time.  They did so and repeated it after that. You will notice that Christmas is not mentioned in this song at all.       

 

3.)        The song focuses on the theme of laughter and joy.  The words joy, fun, laughing, bright, and bells paint a cheery picture in your mind.  I believe that one of the reasons this song is popular is that all of us have a need for joy in our lives.   

            Laughter can bring healing to the soul, mind and body.  As I think about laughter and joy I realize that there are times when we need to laugh in the moment.  There are other times when we need to laugh about our life’s journey with a sense of peace.  

            Let me invite you to laugh at the moment.   

 

4.)        As we have been exploring in Advent the Songs of the Season here are a few questions for you.  Q: How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas? A: Fleece Navidad!  Q: What do you call a bunch of grandmasters of chess bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?  A: Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!

            Here is another story to help you laugh, or groan?

In a small southern town there was a "Nativity Scene" that showed great skill and talent that had gone into creating it. One small feature bothered me.  The three wise men were wearing firemen's helmets.

Totally unable to come up with a reason or explanation, I left. At a "Quik Stop" on the edge of town, I asked the lady behind the counter about the helmets. She exploded into a rage, yelling at me, "You Yankees never do read the Bible!" I assured her that I did, but simply couldn't recall anything about firemen in the Bible.

She told me that she vividly remembered that it said in the Bible that "the wise men came from afar."  (Jokes from Ahajokes.com) 

 

5.)        As we think about the nativity scene one of the main characters we have insights into was Mary.  Do you think Mary laughed that first Christmas?  Do you think Mary laughed as she considered the way her life was unfolding?  Was Mary able to experience joy amidst her hardship?  These are interesting questions to consider.   

 

6.)        Joy can come from family.  Mary was traveling with Joseph from their hometown of Nazareth to Bethlehem.  They had to do this because of a census that Caesar had ordered.  Joseph’s family line was linked to Bethlehem so all of the family was to meet there.  It was like a family reunion for all.  This family reunion would be a chance to meet family that they had not seen in a long time or perhaps had never seen.  So amidst the travel it was chance to be together with family. 

            Are family reunions good times?  I think it is important to get connected with family in special and ordinary times. 

One of the reasons we come together at Christmas is that we value family and want to be together.  I realize that not all families are like this

 

7.)        Joy can come from expectations.  Mary and Joseph were expecting their first child.  They had gone through some rough times in their relationship because Joseph was going to divorce Mary.  That had all been worked through as they affirmed their love and got married.  They were excited parents about being parents. 

When you look at first time parents do you see joy and the glow and excitement that is hard to contain?  As first time parents go through the changes to a body, the house, the finances, the routine changes and challenges there is joyful expectation. 

           

8.)        Joy can come from miracles.  The child was born, a boy, and though it was not in a nice hospital or even a room at the inn, they were glad that the boy was healthy.  Mary and Joseph were with the animals when their child was born.  It was a miracle. 

The birth of a child is a miracle that gives you joy. I know that when our children were born I felt like dancing and crying at the same time.  There was joy. 

 

9.)        Joy can come from sharing with others.  The joy of that moment and life was not going to be limited to Mary and Joseph.  Heaven’s angels were able to share the joy.  Joy is always greater when shared.   

Luke tells us that an angel appeared to the shepherds and told them “I bring you good news of great joy…”  (Luke 2:10)   This was a good message that involved not a little joy but great joy.   After the angel shared this news with some shepherds a bunch of angels filled the sky praising God and singing with joy.  The song they sang out was that “a Savior had been born and the child would be for all people.  The Savior would save the people from their sins.”   

            The shepherds heard the song of joy and decided to go to Bethlehem to see this child.  When they saw the child they told Mary and Joseph about the angels and how they filled the sky with joyful songs.  They shared joy with Mary and Joseph as the angels had shared with them.      

 

10.)      I want to invite you to share a memory of joy from the past year with the person next to you.  Be thinking of what brought you joy this past year.  

            As you think of your joy I want you to imagine a Christmas tree with several hundred gifts under and around it.  As you look closer you see that all of them have your name on them. They also have a date on them from this past year.  As you begin looking at the packages you realize that a gift was given to you every day this past year.  Did you realize they were given to you, your name was on them? 

            Use your memory now and pick up a gift from this past year that gave you joy.  Share that joyful moment with the person next to you. 

 

11.)      I am here to tell you tonight that the good news, no the great news of the gospel, is that you have been given a gift that is yours tonight.  This gift of love and forgiveness is not just given tonight but every single day of the year.  

            To experience joy in your journey you need to become like a child and open the gift of love and forgiveness each day.  

            In a few moments we will celebrate Communion and allow the gift of God’s grace through the bread and juice come inside of us.  I want you to see this great big gift and know that it has your name on it.  Jesus lived, and died, and lives again for you so that you might know you are loved, forgiven, and accepted as we are.      

            This gift will bless you and give you joy and might even make you laugh!  

 

12.)      A favorite Christmas Carol that reminds us of God’s presence is the song, “Joy to the World.”  This song mention the nativity but focuses on joy. 

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing…”  The phrase, “let every heart, prepare him room” reminds us that we need to prepare our heart for the presence of Christ.  We prepare by welcoming Christ into our lives.  We ask him to forgive us and guide us. 

            Let’s sing that first verse.