Coleta United Methodist Church

Joy Break Through

By Rev. Sophia Hyon

Zephaniah 3:14-20

14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17 The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

Luke 3:7-18

7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ 14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Let me tell you about my first ever date in my life. On my first date, I went to a theater to watch movie with the boy friend. No, when we were going to theater, we were not going out yet. We were just a kind of getting to know who each was. I still remember what movie we watched. The name of the movie was Entrapment; Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones were the leading stars. However I couldn’t watch almost the half of the movie because the movie was about two thieves who were trying to steal something from a skyscraper of 88 stories High in Malaysia and I had a fear of heights. The main stars were just jumping all over the high stories during the whole time and I just couldn’t see them jumping on that high story. I was getting so antsy. I was shaking in my shoes and couldn’t even open my eyes to watch the movie! And, at the moment, my date saw me so antsy and he gently held my hand.

That was my first ever date in my life and that was first time he holds my hand! So now you can guess which feeling was bigger than the other between the fear of height seeing the stars flying over the skyscraper and the joy of excitement by holding his hand. Then I thought to myself, “Yes!” and held his hand until the movie was finished. Now I remember the movie, Entrapment as the one he and I watched together with some really good feeling with it. The joy exceeds the fear.

You know what?

We are always able to find joy in our lives. When we go shopping for Christmas gifts and find some real good stuff at a good price, we find joy in the midst of the crazy busy shopping mall.

Yesterday on the way back from visitation to Vonda, I got a car accident. I was turning left; my left turn signal was on. But the young man who was driving behind me didin’t stop. He just hit the right rear of my car and went straight to the ditch by the side of the road. Luckily it was just a minor accident and no one was hurt. I was terrified and startled so did my sister. She was sitting in the passenger’s seat. And the young man too. He was crying, “My father is going to kill me!” That was funny. Everything is just okay. The young man admitted everything was his fault and we got all information from the police who reported our case. While we were waiting there for the police coming, people passing by us were so nice. Cars came to us and asked, “Are you okay?” and a lady at the house right beside the road came out and asked us if there was anything that she could help.

It would have been really good if I wouldn’t have that accident at all, but at the same there I found joy seeing all the goodness in people. I would say that was not too bad. We can find joy in the midst of our lives.

Let’s get back to today’s bible scripture. In Luke, the crowds ask Jesus, “What should we do?” and to them, Jesus answered that ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ It signifies many things. When people ask Jesus about how to live, Jesus answers them to share what they have with others. The joy that we have in Christ is the one that we really need to share with others.

Before I continue to preach, let me show you a short presentation of what the mission team has done at the Midwest Distribution Center last week.

This week I joined the mission team that went to Midwest Distribution Center at south Springfield. This was a significantly meaningful experience for me. All our team got involved inventory work, counting school supplies and flood bucket supplies. Also I got involved varnishing desks that will be sent to the other countries, mostly in high humid area. On the first day, I was counting all the school bags that are made out of all used fabric of curtains and clothes. They got donations of the fabrics and volunteers sewed them and turn the fabrics into the school bags. I got a kind of shocked while counting the bags. I’d never thought about that there are kids who don’t even have the money to buy their own bag.

After my father’s business went bankrupt, I have always thought I would be the poor one. In order to pay my tuition and help my family’s living, I had to work three jobs and that was sometimes hard to do. However that was a totally different story that they don’t even have the money to get their own bags. That is absolute poverty that probably most of us won’t ever experience. After counting the bags, I got involved in varnishing desks that will get sent to the other countries. That we need to send desks means that there are needs of the desks. That means there are kids who don’t have their desks to study. That fact hurts me, and that feeling led me to pray for them who will get the bags and desks while varnishing the desks and counting the bags. I really hope God uses my prayers for the future of the kids, so that the kids have a dream for their own future and the world will be changed by their dreams and hope.

Joy has the power to break through the ordeal of life. The bags and desks will become the kids’ joy. And that was my joy too for being able to be part of making the joyous mission for the kids.

In Luke 10, Jesus sent the seventy disciples to all the towns and cities for the good news and they returned from their mission with excitement. They were so excited saying to Jesus that all the demons submit to them. In Luke 10 verse 21, Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit because Jesus was excited with his disciples who were excited of their mission. Jesus was happy and joyous to see his disciples’ excitement and successful mission. Likewise, Jesus must be so joyful to see that we share what we have with others. In this Advent season, I’d like to invite all of us to savor the joy of sharing with others. This is the time asking us to think about others who might not have families and friends to celebrate the joy of life together. Holidays are usually harder for them to be around.

The third Sunday of Advent is called as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.” Please remember the reason we can rejoice is because the Christ is near. As we begin the third week of Advent, let us share the joy that we have in Christ with others. Share what you have in faith.- whatever that is. You may give the invitation card in your bulletin to share the Good News with your loved ones; you may donate canned food or some stuff to PADs or food pantry for helping those who need the help; you may just send cards to your loved ones or the sick and lonely people to share Christ’ love with them. God will rejoice with you just like Jesus was rejoicing with his disciples after their return from their mission trip. Thanks be to God! Amen!