Hope, Peace, and Joy

2019-12-24 – Christmas Eve – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:1-20

  • Hope, Peace, and Joy: this time of year we see these words written everywhere! Yard decorations, television commercials, wrapping paper, and Christmas cards.
  • These words make us feel good, like a warm blanket and a steaming peppermint latte (or hot cocoa for you kids!), but what do they really mean?
  • Imagine for a moment receiving a gift in beautiful packaging, but when you open it there is nothing inside.
    • The words “Hope, Peace, and Joy” can be like that. We hear them, and they make us smile, but a few moments later it is as if they meant nothing.
  • These words can also be some of the best gifts you have ever received, which fill the deepest needs and desires of your heart.
    • Ultimately, it is your choice.

Hope

  • The superficial meaning of “hope” is kind of like a wish that may or may not happen.
    • I hope the Jaguars win…I win the lottery…my Christmas turkey isn’t too dry.
  • Our lives feel hopeless sometimes. Whether it is in our relationships, our careers, our families, our finances, or our health.
    • We can feel like we are drifting; like everything is up to us and we just can’t quite make it all happen. You might hear the word “hope” and say, “yeah right!”
    • This is not true hope. The traditional symbol for hope is an anchor. Something which holds you steady while the waves crash around you.
  • Some of the biblical names for God include “God who heals (Rapha)” and “God who provides (Jireh).” God offers us hope in all the circumstances of our lives.
    • “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, / Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!” (Great is thy faithfulness, Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923).
  • He also offers us, “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7) through Jesus Christ.

Peace

  • Before we talk about peace, we need to talk a bit about hostility. Hostility is terrible, it can make us feel anxious, angry, unloved, or unwanted.
    • I lived in a house once with some roommates and we went through a season where there was significant hostility.
    • Perhaps you have some hostility in your family. Those feelings can be particularly tense this time of year.
    • Hostility between nations, political parties, races.
  • Isaiah 9:6 – “Prince of Peace” – What does it mean for Jesus to be “Prince of Peace”?
  • Ephesians 2:13-14 – Peace between people
    • On Dec. 24, 1914, World War I was in full force with no end in sight. As they kept watch over the front lines for signs of German activity, the British soldiers in the trenches “noticed the rising of a faint sound that [they] had never before heard on the battlefield—a Christmas carol. The German words to “Stille Nacht” were not familiar, but the tune—“Silent Night”—certainly was. When the German soldiers finished singing, their foes broke out in cheers. Used to returning fire, the British now replied in song with the English version of the carol.”
    • The next morning, unarmed soldiers from both side crossed the killing fields to shake hands, exchange gifts, and even play soccer!
  • Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” – Peace between God and humanity
    • Titus 3:7 – Justified by his grace (gift).

Joy

  • The difference between happiness and joy.
    • Happiness is circumstantial. You are happy at an event, or when you get promoted, or on a holiday, or on a vacation.
    • Joy is deeper and abiding and it transcends circumstances.
    • Warren Wiersbe – “joy—that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances…This “holy optimism” keeps him going in spite of difficulties.”
      • Hebrews 12:2 – “the joy that was set before him”
      • Acts 5:40-41 – The apostles were beaten and they rejoiced.
    • Kay Warren – “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” (Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough, 32)
  • Luke 2:20 – “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
  • “Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her king. Let every heart, prepare him room.” (Joy to the World, Isaac Watts, 1719)
    • John 1:10-12 – this is the true place where we can find hope, peace, and joy.
    • Because of this child, born two thousand years ago to poor parents from an unnotable town in Palestine, you have the opportunity to become a child of God himself! There is true, deep and abiding hope, peace, and joy in that!
  • Have you made room in your heart for Jesus? Have you received him previously but need to receive him again. Don’t let the ultimate gift of Christmas pass you by.

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