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Host Christianne Squires is grace on grace, gathering folks from all different walks of life to have conversations about how they’re bringing light into the world in big and small ways.
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Thanks for listening and be sure to check out her other guests. The conversations are rich and real.
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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.
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.
*********** 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.
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.
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 <><
Growing in Resilience
Day 25, Read Isaiah 64
Reflection: As Clay to the Potter, based on Isaiah 64:8, NRSV
Isaiah 64:8, NRSV Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
It is not you that shapes God,
It is God that shapes you.
If you are the work of God,
await the hand of the artist who does all things in due season.
Offer him your heart, soft and tractable,
and keep the form in which the artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist, lest you grow hard and lose the imprint of his fingers. –Attributed to St. Irenaeus
2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
The Eternal One, Our Father, knows
We are seen and we are searched
No need to harden your defenses
No need to hide
It changes nothing
All that is found is loved
The blessings and the brokenness
The wins and the worry
The success and the sin
All is found and all is loved
Rest in this promise and blessing
Rest in God
Release it all
Surrender to your Beloved
As clay to the Potter
As song to the Singer
As seed to the good, dark earth
buried, but made ready
to burst forth with New Life
*********** Click Here for Potter, a powerful prayer by Steve Garnaas Holmes
Growing in Resilience
Day 24, Read Isaiah 63
Reflection: Help Me Home, based on Isaiah 63.19, The Voice
We’ve become like strangers to You,
Like people You never ruled,
Like those never associated with Your name.
My life looks the same as others
the same failures
the same unhealthy appetites
the same shame and loneliness
the same pain
the same sin
I live like I never enthroned you in my heart
Like I never claimed you claiming me
There was a time we were close
We’ve become strangers
I walked away
I turned my back
Gave my heart to other gods, false and failing
I didn’t remember
Lord have mercy
I have swept away your wrongdoing, as wind sweeps a cloud from the sky: I have cleared you of your sins, as the sun clears the morning mist. I have rescued you; come back to Me.- Isaiah 44:22, The Voice
The message opens with the story of Mandy Harvey, a deaf singing contestant on America’s Got Talent. (Click here for a video.) Mandy tells her story then sings a song she wrote entitled, “Try.” Mandy had every reason to stop trying- to give up on her talents and dreams in music, but she didn’t.
What talent has God given you? What dream has God given you to bless the world?
What’s stopping you from trying? We have a boat load of excuses- I can’t afford it. I don’t have enough education. I don’t have the time. I’m too old/young. I have too much responsibility. It’s too risky.
Beware my friends. There’s tremendous risk in hiding a talent and running from a dream, especially when they’re from God. That’s exactly what Jonah did. God calls Jonah. Jonah refuses and that refusal turn into rebellion.
There are 2 types of calls 1. “Who I am” call – God blesses and empowers us with gifts, talents, life, purpose, etc. Jonah understood his “who I am” call. Jonah son of Amittai literally means “Dove, son of Truth.” Think of the dove associated with the story of Noah’s Ark. The dove brings grace and good news. Think of the dove associated with the Baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings the powerful, anointing of God.
Jonah is a faithful, effective prophet of God. Jonah is a gifted, skilled, and anointed seer. Jonah reveals the word and purposes of God to Israel’s king. It was grace and good news that Israel would expand its boarder under King Jeroboam.
2. “What to do” call– a specific mission assignment. Jonah is to “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (vs. 2) It’s a clear message from God of where to go and what to do. God said get up and go! Instead Jonah shut up and fled.
Problem was not misunderstanding. The problem was willingness. Jonah didn’t want to try. Jonah had every reason not to try
1. Nineveh wasn’t a Jewish city with a Jewish King. Nineveh was the magnificent capital city Assyria, a threatening, enemy superpower.
2. Nineveh was 550 miles away. Imagine that trip on donkey or on foot.
3. Jonah had no desire to preach to “those people.” They were enemies and Gentiles and pagans. He didn’t want to be labeled a “traitor” prophet by his own people.
4. God is a God of grace and mercy. God might extend forgiveness to his enemy and Jonah didn’t want that.
5. Jonah didn’t want to ruin his reputation. If he called out against the city and God spared it, his prophecy didn’t come true.
No God. It’s too risky. Too hard. You’re asking too much.
Does Jonah pray? Nope. Does he ask for help? Nope. Does he go? Nope. Jonah buries his talent, abandons his call, and runs away from the presence of the Lord. (mentioned twice in verse 3)
Jonah refuses and Jonah rebels and it breaks his relationship with God.
The Bible is full of examples which inspire us to greater faith and great acts of service. There are also examples for us to look to and avoid. Jonah is one of them.
How often are we more like Jonah than we want to admit? It doesn’t have to be this way. Step out in faith – try. God has tremendous faith in you. More than you have in yourself. God knit you together in your mother’s womb for a purpose. God empowers you with talents, gifts, graces, and experience for a purpose. Jesus died for you for a purpose- that you might be saved AND that you might join him in saving the world. Step out in faith – try
What is in your power to do for others? Do you have skills to teach and mentor others? Are you in a position to help alleviate suffering financially? Are you a great listener? Prayer Warrior? Organizer? Storyteller? Gardener? Share your testimony? Make an invitation? Do you have creative gifts in writing, music, dance, or art? Are you good with your hands in a way that you can offer practical assistance to people?
Step out in faith – try
You are the hope of the world- try
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to the tech team and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. Videos of these messages are available on the church Facebook Page.
If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.