Read Romans 15:13 and watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIncWMbiVK0

We often hear the words “joy” and “peace” and “hope” as part of the Christmas season, but many people do not know how to have those words. Joy and peace and hope began with Christmas.

We just saw a video of an incredible story of joy. Mary Jones remembered the joy she felt as a child when listening to stories from the Bible. When she heard that there were Bibles printed in her own language, Welsh, and she saved money for six years to buy a Bible. When she finally had enough money, she had to walk a marathon to get that Bible. Only something that provided true joy could have motivated her to do these extraordinary things, and through these acts God used her story of joy to inspire much more.

We just sang “Silent Night” which was originally a poem, but it would never have been paired with a melody unless the church organ had broken that Christmas Eve morning during rehearsal. The pastor of that church asked his friend, a local musician, if he could quickly write a melody in the next few hours, writing a melody to a poem that he wrote a few years ago. The melody to “Silent Night” was originally written within in hours on the same Christmas Eve that it would be played later that day during Christmas Eve service…on a guitar. That pastor, without his usual instrument of an organ to lead worship on Christmas Eve, inspired by hope, gave us one of our most beloved Christmas carols. God used his story of hope to inspire much more.

“O Holy Night” was also a poem before it was paired with a melody. The pastor of the church in town asked a local poet to write about the night of Christ’s birth. The poet reluctantly agreed and wrote one of the most moving and peaceful of all the Christmas carols we have. I mentioned that the poet wrote reluctantly. He wrote reluctantly because he didn’t like the pastor and he really didn’t even like the church either because he didn’t like religion at all. But to write the words of “O Holy Night” – what peace he must have had even for a little while…even though he was…an atheist.

God chose to send His Promised Son to bring joy to Mary Jones so she would save for six years and walk a marathon to purchase a Bible in her own language. God chose to allow an atheist to have His peace so the words could be written to one of the most stirring Christmas carols of all time. And God chose to bring hope to a congregation who had no organ to play for their usual Christmas songs on Christmas Eve. More importantly, God chose to package His one and only Son to us in the form of a baby wrapped in poor clothing born in a poor place.

A baby is perhaps the one thing in this world that can bring everyone joy, peace, and hope to us. Joy in his or her arrival, peace on his or her face as he or she sleeps, and hope in a next generation of a family.

This baby Jesus was the promised hope of thousands of years for God’s people: back then the Jews and now to us Christians.

Many people, including people we know, struggle around the holidays because they are missing something. Perhaps they miss a loved one that has passed away, or they have regrets dealing with current relationships or lack thereof. That missing something, that hole in their heart, while painful, was created by God to be there so that we fill it with the Hope that only He can give. That is why in this congregation of his Church at Living Water Church we talk about not religion but having a relationship with God. The result of that relationship is the joy, peace, and hope that only He can give. We can choose to fill that hole in our hearts with other things, but it is nothing like when we choose to fill it with Him, and there is nothing like that joy, peace, and hope that only He can give when fear is gone and our purpose on earth is much more clear.

To remind us of what only He can give us, when Jesus was grown up from that baby to a man ministering to people, He gave his followers a way to remember Him after He left the earth. He said we should eat and drink together. He used flat bread to represent His body and the fruit of the vine to represent His blood to demonstrate that we understand that He is the true Joy to the world, the Prince of Peace for our souls, and the only Hope that lasts forever.

If you are a believer that Jesus is the only personal Savior from your sins and that you cannot earn His Joy or Peace or Hope by doing something or anything to earn it, because you can’t do something or anything to earn salvation, you are invited to take this bread and drink on your own as we continue to worship the Lord together through song. If you have not made this decision, today is your special day. Think of it as your second birthday on the day we celebrate Jesus birth. You are that child who seeks the Joy of the Lord, like Mary Jones. You are that atheist who wrote about Peace but does not yet have it spiritually. You are in that congregation who though they had no songs to sing on Christmas Eve but were given hope. I want you to bow your head, close your eyes, and repeat this prayer. If this is the first time you have said this prayer today and you are a child, after this prayer I want you to tell your parents that you prayed it. If you are an adult, I want you to talk to Jack after we conclude our service so that we can equip you as a new follower of Jesus. Please repeat these words.

“Dear Jesus. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. And I acknowledge that I need a Savior. I need a Savior because I cannot earn Your Joy. I cannot earn Your Peace. And I cannot earn your Hope. By the things that I do. Only You can give these things. I confess this right now. That You alone are my Savior. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

Merry Christmas.

As we sing the next four songs, please take and eat and take and drink to remember why Jesus was born today in a lowly estate so that we could have a relationship with God again.