Thursday, December 19, 2013


Recently, I was in the car with my mom, and Christmas music was playing on the radio.  The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” came on, and my mom said, “I couldn’t listen to this song when your dad was in Vietnam.”  As far as I know, that year he did his tour of duty in Vietnam was the only Christmas my parents have spent apart from one another in nearly a half-century of marriage.  Yet here it is well over forty years later, and when my mom hears that song, it reminds her of one of the saddest times of her life.  For me, it was a needed reminder that while most of us enjoy Christmastime, it’s a tough time of year for many people.  For those folks, some of the songs we love may take on a whole different meaning.  Maybe you can identify with that.  You’ve lost someone recently, or your health is declining, or you’re trying to adjust to a new financial reality, or maybe you don’t even know why you’re sad…you just are.  If this just doesn’t feel like “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I hope my message this Sunday will be exactly what you need.  But even if you consider yourself relatively happy, this sermon is for you.  One thing I have observed is that for the overwhelming majority of happy people, happiness is extremely fragile. You can easily identify one or at most two things in their lives which, if those things were suddenly missing, their happiness would vanish.  So maybe you’ve just fallen in love, and that’s an amazing feeling.  But someday, that person may be gone, or they may not love you back.  Or maybe you just got hired to your dream job; but what if that job turns out to be a nightmare instead?  CS Lewis said “Never let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”  And unfortunately, almost all the stuff that makes us happy is temporary.  We will lose it eventually.  So Merry Christmas!    
We’ve been talking the past several weeks about “How to Be Good at Life,” as we’ve studied the wisdom of Scripture on how to live a life that is an example to others.  All year, we’ve been talking about representing Christ in a non-Christian culture.  As I tie up both of those threads this Sunday, I can tell you this: Nothing in all the world is as attractive as joy.  Nothing draws people to Christ more reliably, no sermon in the world preaches as powerfully, as an ordinary person who has joy.  And besides that, living with joy is, well, enjoyable.  It is the only way to live.  I have good news for you today: God wants you to have joy.  So this Sunday, we’re going to talk about joy;  The joy the wise men expressed when they found the infant Messiah.  We’ll talk about what it is, and how we can have it.

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