Things To Be Joyful About

Advent 3B
Isaiah 61:1-2A, 10-11 / 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 / John 1:6-8, 19-28
Right at the beginning of the great
philosophical tradition of the West
in 440 BC—
there was the eminent and the wise Socrates.
The teacher of Plato, Socrates—
“The unexamined life is not worth living”, Socrates.
And when it came to god—
what did the illustrious Socrates believe in?
He believed in the gods of Greek mythology.
Gods who were just like us at
some of our worst times—
imperfect and impetuous—
capricious and petty—
and often times tragic gods.
Socrates believed in
Zeus and Poseidon and Apollo and Athena.
One would have thought that Socrates
should have done better—
when it came to god.
Fast forward a hundred years—
340 BC—
now in the Golden age of Greek philosophy—
we meet the great Aristotle.
Many would argue that Aristotle
is the greatest of all the philosophers.
And god for Aristotle
is the unmoved mover—
the impersonal god who does nothing but thinks—
thinks and contemplates about himself
for all of eternity.
A god who if distracted from this eternal
self-contemplation would cease to exist.

Some of the best human minds ever could
not imagine or even reason what the true God is like.
The true God—
the God who has been revealed and experienced—
is a communion of love—
Father—Son—and Holy Spirit.
A communion of love not
just turned in on themselves.
This communion of love created—
created us from pure love—
God can only love.
And Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
are intimately and personally
involved in our lives—
they care—
they fulfill our deepest desires and needs—
to love and to beloved.
Now that’s something to rejoice about.
Our God is so magnificent—
that no human being—no one—
sees the face of God and lives—
because God is so splendid—
God is so glorious—
God is so pure.
Our human nature just couldn’t withstand the
light that emanates from God.
Remember the story of Moses?
Moses had found great favor with God—
enough favor that God
called Moses an “intimate friend.”
So Moses asks God,
“Let me see your glory.”
“Let me see you.”
“Let me see your face.”

And God responds,
“I will make all my beauty pass
before you, but my face you cannot see,
for no man sees my face and lives.”
So God puts Moses in the crevice of a rock
and covers his eyes as God passes by—
so Moses could only see God’s back side.
So, what does God the
all-powerful and all-loving God do?
God so desires a personal relationship with us
that He comes to us as a newborn baby.
Everyone is attracted to a newborn—
Everyone draws near to a newborn—
Everyone smiles at a newborn—
Everyone wants to touch and hold a newborn baby.
So, the fact that God comes to us—
comes to us as a defenseless—
and weak—and vulnerable—
and non-threatening infant—
to draw us to Him—
now that’s something to rejoice about.
You know there is the great irony of Advent.
And the irony of Advent is this:
It’s not us who waits for the coming of our Lord—
It’s our Lord who is always waiting on us to come to Him.
Waiting on us to spend time with Him—
Waiting on to come to Him for mercy and forgiveness—
Waiting on us to love Him—
Waiting on us to make Him a priority.
You know there is nothing that
any of us could do that
would lessen God’s love for us.


There is nothing that
any of us could do
that God will not forgive us for—
If only we come and ask.
You see, it’s our Lord,
Who waits, and waits, and waits—
He pines for us.
Now that’s something to rejoice about.
God waiting to make our lives more
than we could ever imagine.
I love a story told about a little girl
who wanted to become a great pianist,
but all she could play on the piano
was the simple little tune, "Chopsticks."
No matter how hard she tried,
that was the best she could do.
Her parents decided to arrange for
a great maestro to teach her to play
the piano properly.
Of course, the little girl was delighted.
When the little girl and her parents
arrived at the maestro's mansion for the first lesson,
they were escorted by the butler into the parlor.
There they saw a beautiful concert grand piano.
Immediately, the little girl dashed over to
the piano and began playing "Chopsticks."
Her embarrassed parents started across
the room to tell her to stop,
but as she played,
the maestro entered the room and
encouraged the little girl to continue.
The maestro then took a seat on
the piano bench next to the little girl,

listening to her play.
After a moment, he began to play
along with her,
adding chords and runs as
the little girl continued to play "Chopsticks."
The parents couldn't believe their ears.
They were hearing a beautiful piano duet,
played by their daughter and the maestro,
and amazingly enough,
the central theme of it was still "Chopsticks."
Jesus is waiting for us to scoot over just a little bit—
Just a little bit to make room for him on our piano bench—
nd to allow Him to play with us.
Allow Him to help us make beautiful and joyful music—
Music that will change us and the world—
Music that will last for all of eternity.
Now that’s something to rejoice about.
Gaudete Sunday is about the Christian virtue of joy.
And St. Paul is one of our examples.
He went through a lot for Jesus.
In his letters, Paul tells us that
five times he was whipped with thirty-nine lashes—
three times he had been beaten with rods—
and once he was stoned.
Three times he was shipwrecked.
He was thrown in jail multiple times.
He worked and labored,
often without sleep—
He has been hungry and thirsty
and often starving—
he had been in the cold without clothes.
He said he encountered dangers from rivers—
dangers from robbers—
dangers from my own race—

dangers from Gentiles—
dangers in the city—
dangers in the wilderness—
and dangers at sea.
But in the midst of all of this—
in spite of these hardships and miseries—
St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always—
in all circumstance, [all circumstances], give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you, in Christ Jesus.
How can St. Paul say this?
Because God is a God of love—
a communion of love—
a God who fulfills our
deepest wants and desires.
Because God is a God who wants to be in a
loving relationship with us so bad that
He comes to us as a defenseless—
and weak—
and vulnerable—
and non-threatening little newborn baby.
Because God is a God who is always waiting for us—
waiting for us to scoot over and let Him
play beautiful music with us—
music that will change us and
change the world.
That’s why St. Paul can say to all Christians—
Rejoice always—
in all circumstance, [all circumstances], give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you, in Christ Jesus.

Holy Spirit 12/16-17/2017

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