Advent Preaching About Joy For Today

Advent Preaching About Joy For Today

In the last post we began a reflection on the songs of Christmas that Luke records in his gospel.  We saw that the message of Zachariah’s song was that help is on the way.  In this post we turn to the second song in Luke.  It’s Mary’s song when she meets Elizabeth.  You can find this song in Luke 1:46-55.  We consider advent preaching about joy for today in this post.

An Introduction

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS — Pictured: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” Key Art — (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

When I preached on this passage, I began by quoting from Dr. Seuss’ classic story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  I focused on this passage:

The Grinch hated Christmas!  The whole Christmas season! 

Now please don’t ask “why”.  No one quite knows the reason. 

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.  

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. 

But I think that the most likely reason of all 

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But the Grinch realizes something important as the people of Whoville rejoice even though he stole all the trappings of Christmas.  He concludes:

Maybe Christmas, he though, doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. 

Dr. Seuss leaves unanswered a very important question: Is everybody so happy at Christmas?  That isn’t what the National Institute of Health in the United States says.  That organization says that more people get depressed during the holiday season than at any other.  The reasons vary: grief over lost loved ones, high expectations, a sense that you’ve failed in the past year, being too busy, etc.

The song of Mary, known as the Magnificat, is one of the most joyful songs in history, even though there were many reasons that Mary should have been depressed.   Her song is one of the keys to Advent preaching about joy for today for our world.

Behind the Advent Preaching About Joy

There are some important things to note.  Mary was somewhere between 12 to 15.  The practice in that day was

Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel

that as soon as a young girl could bear children, they would be married.  So picture this young middle school girl who gets the visit from an angel.  Here she is pregnant, though not married.  This could cause all sorts of problems for her.  She could be stoned to death since Joseph would likely deny the the child was his.  It is likely that no one would ever agree to marry her with this stigma in her background.  Yet, she sings a song full of joy.

Four Reasons To Sing About Joy This Season

Advent Preaching About Joy Is Personal

  • Sing and rejoice because you know and experience God this season.  Mary is singing because she knows God in a personal way.  She says, “God is my savior.”  God is not some remote idea for her, nor is He just a tradition.  He is real, present, loving.  This is surprising and worth preaching. You see, most people think that money will bring happiness and joy.  But the reality is different.  This quote is from Time magazine (January 12, 2016): “If you win the $1.5 Billion Powerball jackpot, you may not be as lucky as you may think.  Many winners befall the so-called curse of the lettering, with some squandering their fortunes and others meeting tragic ends.”  Winners have committed suicide, or run through their money.  About 70% lose it all within a few years.  So encourage your people to focus on their relationship with God if they want joy.  Advent preaching about joy for today will strike home to them.

Preaching About Joy Because I Have a Part to Play

  • Not only does Mary know God, but she rejoices that God has given her a role to play (vss 48-50).  Even though this is a challenging time for her, she looks beyond her own struggle and pain to God’s power, mercy and holiness.   Mary sings for joy because because such a great God notices a poor nobody like her and invites her to be part of his plan to be part of his plan to save the world.  In your advent preaching about joy for today ask your people if they have found their part in God’s plan.

Advent Joy Because God Is At Work

  • The third reason to sing for Joy is because God is turning the world upside down (vss. 51-53).  Jesus wasn’t born to make nice people nicer.  He came to usher God’s kingdom into a fallen world, and the kingdom comes to those who humbly receive it.  This is a revolutionary song.  Jesus is going to make things different.  Advent preaching about joy for today means that I call peoples’ attention to the actions of God in the world to bring hope and relief to the hurting, the hungry and those who are despairing.  I think of one powerful example.  In India the Caste system has been strong for many generations.  Missionaries tried to reach the upper castes, thinking that if they reached them, it would trickle down to the lower castes.  But it didn’t happen.  So, some revolutionary missionaries decided to share the good news with the humble lower castes, beginning with the Untouchables.  The gospel spread like wildfire, and the caste system began to break down as these peoples’ lives improved.

God Keeps His Promises

  • The final reason for singing for joy is that God keeps His promises (vss. 54-56).  There’s a cute story about a boy who took the baby Jesus from the manger scene outside of church.  The pastor began to search frantically around the neighborhood, and found Jesus in a wagon pulled by a young boy.  He asked the boy where he got his passenger.  The boy readily admitted that he got him from church.  Why did you take him? The boy said, “Well, last week I prayed that if Jesus would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it.”  For this little boy it was simple: God keeps his promises.

Preach It!

Advent preaching about joy for today is a theme that will resonate with your congregation.  Preach it!