The Songs of Christmas: Joy to the World (Psalm 98, Genesis 3)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
November 26: Joy to the World by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Scripture References: Psalm 98, Genesis 3
These are the notes from a message offered Sunday, 11/25/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Our first song is in this new message series is Joy to the World. Is it one of your favorite Christmas songs? Surprise! It isn’t a Christmas song. It’s an Advent song. Advent means “coming” and it refers to the coming of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ coming is understood in 3 ways

  • the first coming of Jesus as the babe in Bethlehem (Incarnation)
  • the second coming of Jesus as Lord, Judge, and King at the end of time
  • the coming of Christ into our hearts and world in the here and now

Joy to the World came into being through 3 men on 2 different continents in 2 different centuries.

  • Isaac Watts based the text on Psalm 98:4-9
    • He was frail, sickly, quiet, only 5-feet tall. (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748, United Kingdom)
    • In his teen years, he complained to his father, a dissenting pastor, that the songs sung in church were awful and difficult to sing. His father said, “Well, you write some that are better.” And so he did. He wrote a hymn a week for the next two years and went on to write hundreds of texts.
    • It could be said Watts was writing the contemporary music lyrics of his day (Chris Tomlin of his day)
  • 100 years later in America, Lowell Mason set Watt’s text to musical fragments composed in the United Kingdom by George Frederick Handel, from his famous work The Messiah

Joy to the World by Isaac Watts
1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.

2 Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let all their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

4 He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.

Psalm 98:1-9
1 O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

2 The Lord has made known his victory. He has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.

8 Let the floods clap their hands; Let the hills sing together for joy 9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

What stands out to you from the song lyrics and/or Psalm 98?

  • Joy. Joy is very different than happiness which is based on a favorable situation. Joy is beyond situation. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
  • Love. God’s love is faithful, unending, and sacrificial.
  • Jesus is our Savior King

Themes from Joy to the World and Psalm 98

Invitation for all people on earth and all of creation itself to join in worship and song to the Lord

  • Make a joyful noise (Psalm 98:4)
  • Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the world and those who live in it. Let the floods clap their hands. Let the hills sing together for joy. (Psalm 98:7-8)
    • What would it be like to imagine creation praising God when you hear the ocean, or the wind in the trees, or a dog bark, or someone laughing?
  • Let heaven and nature sing (verse 1)
  • Let all their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy (Verse 2)
    • Humans and Creation call back and forth to one another in praising God. The heavens and the earth call back and forth to one another in praise as well.

Why do we worship and sing? We’re celebrating the Lord doing “marvelous things” (Psalm 98:1)

  • The Lord is victorious (Psalm 98:1-3)
    • Victory over sin and death, shame and guilt, isolation and suffering, evil, injustice, oppression
  • Steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel (covenants and promises) and to all the people of the earth (Psalm 98:3)
  • The Advent/Coming of Jesus the Christ- first and second (Psalm 98:9)
  • Jesus Christ judges the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity (Psalm 98:9)

Celebrating and Trusting who Jesus is

  • King of Kings, King of All, King of Creation (Psalm 98:6)
    • Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; (Verse 1)
      • This is a present and future reality
    • Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing (Verse 1)
      • Jesus is King of all creation and desires to sit on the throne of my heart. Jesus is immense and intimate.
    • He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love, (Verse 4)
      • the glory of right relationship and true love in Jesus Christ are seen in and across national boundaries
  • Savior King (Psalm 98:1-3)
    • Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! (Verse 2)
      • Though Jesus is King of Creation, he knows us intimately and offers all for our salvation
    • No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found, (Verse 3)
      • Jesus our Savior King reverses the curse of Original Sin found in Genesis 3. Jesus’ grace is greater than our sin and all sin.
      • In Genesis 3 we see every relationship corrupted by sin- God and humanity, humans with one another, humans with animals, humans with the earth.
      • Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection offers us victory over sin and death, over the disorder, destruction, and disintegration of The Fall

Will you place your trust in Jesus our Savior King? He is knocking on the door of your heart. Yes, you. Just as you are. It is grace. It is a gift. He will not force his way in. Open the door and receive your King. Welcome him to the throne of your heart.

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <><

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Joy to the World reflections © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Come to the Feast, based on Isaiah 55.1-2

bread wine wood table

Growing in Resilience
Day 16, Read Isaiah 55
Reflection: Come to the Feast, based on Isaiah 55:1-2, NRSV

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

In the midst of all you are facing
Come to the One who overflows
To Living Water
Thirst no more

Come to Jesus
The One who is Wine
The Vine Eternal
Who was cut off, crushed, and poured out
For your forgiveness and deliverance
May you be rooted in Him
And gladdened in His presence
For His joy is our strength

Come
Rest against our Beloved’s breast
Nurtured and nourished
On the milk of love and kindness

Come
The bill is paid
Eat and be satisfied
With the very Bread of Heaven

Listen…
Listen……
Grace is calling
Come, the feast awaits

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Come to the Feast © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Growing in Resilience: Rise and Run, based on Isaiah 52 and Hebrews 12

running feetGrowing in Resilience
Day 13, Read Isaiah 52
Reflection: Rise and Run, based on Isaiah 52:1-2, 7, 11-12 and Hebrews 12:1-3

I was struck by the similarities between Isaiah 52 and Hebrews 12:1-3. Running, rising, moving forward, freedom from sin and captivity, putting off the old/sinful and putting on the new/good, persevering, enduring, God going before and making the way, joy, sacrifice, strength, purpose, intentionality, salvation…

Isaiah 1-2, 7, 11-12
Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! … How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”… Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of it, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the Lord. For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NRSV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

You are surrounded
With great and good companions

With witnesses who ran the race before you
Now cheering you on
Inspiring you with their courageous faith

With witnesses running beside you
Churning up the dust of this well-traveled-path
Encouraging you with the steady beat of their beautiful feet

Rise and run
Lay aside every weight
Every shackle
Every excuse
Every inner critic shouting against inspiration

Lay aside the sin that clings so closely
Every self-serving motivation
Every self-medicating choice
Every weak thing you’ve trusted more than God

Lay them aside
Shake off the dust
Rise and run

Run beloved, run
Run with perseverance the race
Daring
Enduring
Awake
Free

Run
Looking not to the dust, but to Jesus
The Pioneer and Perfecter of your faith
Look not to the right or to the left
Look to Jesus
Focus
Follow

Jesus is The Way, opening the path
The Truth, clearing the clutter
The Light, blazing the trail

He runs
He endures
For the sake of the joy
Of setting the joy before you
and in you

Run
Run remembering
Joy is your strength
Good News is your song
Rise and endure
For this race comes with a cross
A course of blood and tears
Mocking and piercing

Take it up
Disregard its shame (that ancient enemy)
Let it fall by the wayside
Tired scraps on the breath of new life

Take it up and run
Depart! Go!
Sit down in the next life
Not this one

Rise and run
Following and looking and remembering him who endured
So that you may not grow weary
Or lose heart
For your strongest, most beautiful step is yet to come

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Rise and Run © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Soul Tending, a small group experience based on Luke 13:10-17

soul-tending

As you gather, move chairs into groups of three.

Welcome and Centering
ONE:
Welcome. Let’s center by taking a deep breath in, let it out. Breath in, and out. Let’s pray together.

ALL: An Invitation to Christ by Dimitri of Rostov
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.

Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.

Gratitude and Glory Sightings
ONE:
1 Chronicles 16:34 NRSV
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Please stand and share with the whole group a word of gratitude or glory sighting from the last week. Did God teach you something or reveal something to you? Was a prayer answered or was God apparent in the midst of a situation? Did God give you the chance to bring peace or hope or share the Good News of Jesus?

Persons stand and share

God’s Word for Today
Adapted from Pray as You Go, a daily prayer app (Jesuit apps)

ONE: I’ll be reading the scripture three times. As you listen to the scripture the first time, place yourself in the story. Who are you and what are you feeling?

Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV) Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Pause

As you listen again, what part of the scene is affecting you most? Be brave and stay with that part. Read the passage again and then pause.

Listen to the passage a third time. Discuss your experience with Jesus and listen to what he says to you. Read the passage again and then pause.

Share your experience with your group of three. When your group is ready, continue with the prayer time, spiritual goal setting time, and closing blessing.

Prayer Time
Jeremiah 29:12 NRSV
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.

Pray blessing over each other and for each other’s needs
Pray for the needs of your community and world

Spiritual Goal Setting
Care of Soul Question – What devotional practices are you finding most helpful in strengthening your relationship with Jesus?

Fulfilling Your Call Question – What is your mission from God and how are you fulfilling it?

Set a spiritual goal for the coming week.

In your group of three, read the closing blessing together.

Closing Blessing- Psalm 5:11-12, The Voice
Let those who run to You for safety be glad they did
Let them break out in joyful song.
May You keep them safe—
their love for You resounding in their hearts.
You, O Eternal, are the One who lays all good things in the laps of the right-hearted.
Your blessings surround them like a shield.

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Soul Tending, Luke 13:10-17 compilation © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Father to the Fatherless: A Call to Worship based on Psalm 68

God is a father to the fatherless.ONE:
You who love God, rejoice!
You who trust God, be glad in God’s presence!
Be filled with joy!

Sing to the Beloved
The Name above all names
Sing loud praises to the One who rides the clouds
Welcome God’s presence

ALL:
This is God
Father to the fatherless
Defender of the desolate

This is God
Providing the lonely a family
Setting the prisoners free

Blessed be the Mighty One!
Who carries us each day
Blessed be our Savior!
Who leads us into wholeness and new life

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Call to Worship for Father’s Day © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Reader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels (Luke 2:8-20)

The Christmas Story readers theaterReader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels
Based on Luke 2:8-20 NRSV
Parts: Narrator, Angel, Choir/All, Shepherd

NARRATOR
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them,

ANGEL
Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.

NARRATOR
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

CHOIR OR ALL
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

NARRATOR
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,

SHEPHERD
Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.

NARRATOR
So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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The Christmas passages from Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 are “tidings of great joy for all people.” A great way to embody this truth is through multiple readers of multiple ages voicing the beloved story. I hope these simple scripts will help you to do just that. Merry Christmas and may the promises of this Holy Season strengthen you throughout the year! – Lisa <><

Click the link for a master pdf of all The Christmas Story scripts
Reader’s Theater The Christmas Story

Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: The Shepherds and the Angels (Luke 2:8-20)
© 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayer: Glorious One (Luke 2:8-14)

Sheep in Winter Sunlight by Steve Partridge via Wikimedia Commons

Sheep in Winter Sunlight by Steve Partridge via Wikimedia Commons

2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas
Day 16 Reading: Luke 2:8-14
Angels and Shepherds

the glory of the Lord shone around them
– Luke 2:9

Prayer Poem: Glorious One
Glorious One
Let your kingdom come
Pervading, designing
Creating, surprising
Glorious One

Tender One
Beckoning home the lost son
Embracing our sighing
Accepting, abiding
Tender one

Generous One
Arms open wide in welcome
Adopting, providing
Protecting, residing
Generous One

Peacemaking One
Saving the world without guns
Dying, arising
Healing, uniting
Peacemaking One

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hearts are reviving
Vision is widening
Praises are rising
Thanksgiving flying
Glorious, Glorious, Glorious One!

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This post is part of the 2014 Bible Reading Plan for Christmas. Click here for more information, including a list of all the readings.

Prayer Poem: Glorious One  © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

I’m very interested in setting this text music. Contact me to collaborate.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.