Worship Service – December 13, 2020

Sunday, December 13,2020
Psalm 126
1 When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.
As we light, the candle of JOY, this third Sunday of Advent, and remembering our theme of how,” Love Came Down at Christmas” you’re probably wondering about my sermon title. ”Joy Comes “. If you are like me, you’ve been watching your favorite Christmas movies. Have you ever noticed that they almost always have the same ending? The story line may be different, but the stories themselves all seem to stick to the same format. And the end is always one of Joy Comes, in one way or another.
A good example of this we see is in a Dr. Seuss Christmas story. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The small-hearted Grinch steals food and toys from all the Who’s of Whoville in an effort to curb their Christmas joy. Yet on Christmas morn, the tall and the small sang without any presents at all.
And the Grinch with his grinch-feet, ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, is a whole lot more.
Then at the very end as we watch and listen, they all sing together.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!
Like in our scripture in Psalm 126 the psalmist story ends with,” songs of joy”.
So, if you have ever thought about writing a novel or telling a story, Robert Fulghum, who I referenced back in November, has written many books, and suggest that you keep this creed close by as you write:
Believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
Believe that myth is more potent than history.
Believe that dreams are more powerful than facts.
Believe that hope always triumphs over experience.
Believe that laughter is the only cure for grief.
Believe that love is stronger than death.
He calls that the Storyteller’s Creed. I think he is right on all counts because life, real life, is not about knowledge, history, facts, grief, and death; rather life is about imagination, dreams, hope, laughter, and love. When we hear good stories those are the things that inspire us, move and motivate us. Now you might say to me, “Now pastor, life most certainly is about grief and death. We see it in the news, in our community, in our friends and family, especially during this current pandemic and recent lockdowns. The world is full of it.” Yes, it is! But they do not have the final word. Grief and death are not the end of the story . You see, there is a people whose attitude is not changed by its poverty. There is a nation whose hunger does not drive it to despair. There is a church which is persecuted but shall persevere.
 One day this great people called the Church of God will leap for joy because it’s reward will be great in heaven. Amen.
Did you know the word for Joy in worship is Amen! So, our message this week I’ve titled:
Let’s let the psalmist help in our understanding. In Palm 126 we can know 4 truths about how,” Joy Comes “. The first truth is in Psalm 126:1-2A we read;” When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,”
“When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion” appears to refer to the restoration from Babylonian captivity. This event was obviously like a dream come true and met with a response of laughter and songs of joy.
Our first truth is: “JOY COMES “,TO THOSE WHO DREAM.
Most of us realize that our dreams come from what we believe. So it stands to reason that if we want Joy, we need to believe that it will come and what it will look like so we can hold on to it.
One poet put it like this;
“Joy is much more than pleasure or fun.
Joy is divinity dancing to a new drum.
Joy is gratefulness for the greatest of gifts.
Joy is sorrow that we know turns to bliss.
Joy is the glory of God now on earth.
Joy is the Amen of a spiritual new birth.
As believers, as His church, we are to be like the captives of Zion, who joyfully sang;” we were like men who dreamed”. When our minds are full of dreams let God’s people say, “AMEN.” “JOY COMES”, TO THOSE WHO DREAM.
May I ask you today, “What are your dreams for this Christmas?” No, I’m not talking about the weather. Whether or not it snows for the holidays is a matter of personal preference. There are other matters of far more importance. Are you dreaming of, a just Christmas, a peaceful Christmas, a loving Christmas, a forgiving Christmas? If so, do you believe? Joy can come to those who dream?
Years ago ,I competed in a YFC singing competition in Ocean City NJ. The song I chose to perform was, I Believe. Written by Ervin Drake, Irvin Grahm, Jimmy Shirl and Al Stillman. Probably because I have always been a dreamer and believed that dreams come true and bring joy into our lives. Here are the lyrics:
I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come
To show the way
I believe, I believe
I believe above a storm the smallest prayer
Can still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
Or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
Or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe.
Just because you are probably wondering. No, I didn’t win the competition. But my story does end in the joy I received by the opportunity to share with others of like faith and dreams.
I believe that joy comes to us in the telling of our stories, of letting others know what we dream and what we believe. “Joy Comes”, to those who dream.
Back to or scripture. The second truth we learn about joy from the psalmist is that:
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the streams in the Negev! (verses 2b-4). When the Lord has done great things, let God’s people say, “AMEN.” “JOY COMES!”
I think that one of the problems we have in many of our churches today is that we don’t show or express to others a true picture of the joy of God’s kingdom. We don’t express the,” Joy that Comes” to those who are Grateful.
I remember, once during advent season, as a youth, my parents took our family to an unfamiliar church. Because we were visitors, the usher sat us in a pew that no regular attendees would use, and because there was seven or eight of us, I don’t remember, a couple of us were set in the pew behind the others, of which I was one. And next to me was a woman, who was, I assumed, also a visitor. Her not being a regular attendee of the church, when the pastor made a good point in the sermon, she said, “AMEN!” Heads turned to see who was making that racket. Then when the preacher made a really good point, she said, “THANK YOU JESUS!” Folks were getting uncomfortable by then. Finally, the preacher made an exceptionally good point and the woman stood up, waved her hands in the air and shouted “HALLELUJAH!” At that point the head usher came up beside her and said, “Madam, what do you think you’re doing?!” She replied, “I can’t help it, I’ve got so much joy for what God has given me .” The usher replied, “Well, you didn’t get it HERE so sit down and be quiet.”
We are ever so lacking in telling others, how grateful we are, unlike the, captives returned to Zion. They knew that ”Joy Comes” to those who are Grateful. “Amen”?
The psalmist also reminds us that the captives also knew that, ”Joy Comes “ to those who Grieve. Our third truth.
Psalm 126:5 reads: ”Those who sow in tears will reap” with shouts of joy.” In Matthew 5:4 Jesus tells us;” Blessed are those who morn. They will be comforted.”
As I meditated on this truth a story came to mind of a young pastor had rang the doorbell at the home of one of his parishioners who had recently lost their spouse and was waiting to be received. But no one came to the door. He sensed that someone was at home, but his repeated ringing of the bell and knocking on the door, brought no response. As a final departing act, he wrote Revelation 3:20 on the back of one of his calling cards and stuck it under the door: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”
 Two days later the pastor received his calling card back in an envelope with a brief note attached that simply contained the text from Genesis 3:10: “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
The moral of this story is, that if we don’t answer the door in times of grief, whether it be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job and even loss of freedom, if we don’t have the mind set of ”Joy Comes”, we will never know that” Joy Comes “to those who Grieve.
Paul reminded us in Romans 12:15-16a. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; morn with those who morn. Live in harmony with one another.” Joy will come to those who grieve. “Amen”? Joys Coming!
Our fourth and final truth we find in reading, Psalm 126:6”He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”
Let me share with you one last story. It’s a story about the little boy who returned home after his first Sunday school class. His mother asked, “Who was your teacher?’ and the little boy answered, “I don’t remember her name, but she must have been Jesus’ grandmother because she didn’t talk about anyone else.”
 Do your conversations , your stories reflect your love of Jesus? Would your words give away your relationship with him?
The psalmist was not only talking about the Joy the captives received by sharing their stories of God’s Grace. He was also foretelling of the Jesus and the Joy he has offered to us. By His birth, His life, His suffering and death on the cross and His resurrection. So that we may choose the Joy of salvation, the forgiveness of our sin and the sheaves He carries with Him. For they contain, ETERNAL LIFE AND JOY!
My prayer this day is that all of you choose, Joy that Comes to you by the Grace of God. So that this Advent season you will be able to tell others your story of how, ”Love Came Down at Christmas “,and sing the song of joy as the Angels did. ”Behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:10).
Joy is more than a three-letter word on the flap of a Christmas card. Joy is an encounter of a Divine kind. Joy is the arrival of a Savior. Joy is the intervention of God into human affairs. When God arrives, ”Joy Comes “! AMEN?
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen  to Audio: Sermon 20201213
Listen to Audio: Service 12132020



Pastor Joe is available at the church every Thursday from 2 to 4p.m.  If you wish to speak with him, his contact numbers are: 570-465-7303 or his cell 570-267-4570.

Loose change offering, (coins & bills), today goes to Kenya,Rev. Malaho.

Men’s Action Group meeting – Wednesday, December 16th, 8am for breakfast and discussion

Newsletter  Deadline - Tuesday, January 5th


PLEASE NOTE: We ask that you wear a mask as you ENTER the church.  Winter Months – Session discussed the procedures the congregation will follow during the winter months. People will enter and leave the Church by the front door. Mask must be worn as they enter and go to a pew. Mask must be worn when they leave the Church. Pastor Joe will stand near the pulpit when the service is finished to speak to people before they leave. He will not stand by the front door. Session is asking that people do not congregate in the vestibule or loiter for a long time in the sanctuary when they leave. Hand sanitizer will be located by the front door for people to use.

The Worship Services for the Advent Season have been planned.   A Christmas Eve Service will take place at 7pm. Ushers will be used to escort people to a pew. They will try to keep families together. People will wear a mask as they enter the Church and go to a pew. Pews will be marked off as to where to sit for social distancing. When the pews are full people will be escorted to the community building where they can watch the Christmas Eve Service on the TV. Mask will be worn and social distancing will take place while in the community building. Those who wish to stay in the parking lot can do so and listen to the service on 89.5 FM radio. The candle lighting will take place by the congregation. Candles will be available for those in the community building. People will be asked to hold something in back of the candle flame as they blow it out. It could be their hand, the hymnal or a bulletin. They could also use their fingers to distinguish the flame. Ushers will escort people from the Church when the service is over. Candles will be collected as they leave.


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