Monday, May 02, 2011

Sermon on John 20:19-31, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, "Gladness and Joy"

1. Christian joy: do we have it, or is it missing? “You Christians lost the world when you lost your joy.” True or false?

a. magnet and mystery

b. difference from happiness--emotion, dependent largely on external circumstances vs. deep and abiding joy. relation of happiness to joy

c. finding joy in unexpected places: why were the disciples joyful in Acts 5:41, that they had suffered dishonor for the name of Jesus?

d. 1 Peter 1:6-8, In this (your salvation) you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

2. Discovering joy
can’t be forced, faked, or manufactured--the quickest way to kill or extinguish joy

a. no way to measure or calculate when or how much you will feel

b. joy can be lost in various ways--most often through forgetfulness of the treasure we have in Christ. Also through deception--truth stolen, or distraction--poor substitutes for joy are given (thrills, pleasure, entertainment, wealth, etc), trial and difficulty can steal joy (shouldn’t be so)

c. feeling on the outside looking in--contrast to how the disciples were locked in for fear, and Jesus broke into their gloom and brought joy un-looked for. measuring our joy against what others have.

d. Harrison on the secret of joy: “In fact, there is a kind of joy so profound, so enduring, that it can only be known and felt in one way. Its weaker shadows must be completely dashed and lost. Here’s the secret: if we seek joy for its own sake, we will not find it. If we seek Jesus, we shall be engulfed and inundated by joy, and quite by surprise.” C.S. Lewis...'2nd things'

e. Joy is elusive if we seek it for its own sake, but if we seek Jesus, joy will come unexpectedly and spontaneously. To find more joy, look always more to Jesus, dive deeper into the good news of what He’s done.

3. The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord
what makes for Easter joy? Jesus breaking into their sadness

a. Peace be with you--reconciliation with God

b. Joy of forgiveness--“Wherever forgiveness is proclaimed there is joy and festive garments...God is so completely different from what we thought or feared. News that he has sent his Son to us and is inviting us to share is an unspeakable joy.” Helmut Thielicke,

c. Jesus’ hands and feet (last week “grabbing hold of His feet”) a real, living body! Contrast of the impoverished ideas of an “afterlife” that some hold--to having the whole ‘you’ go to heaven (without sin of course!)

d. Jesus encounters or visits us--breaking into our gloom and joylessness, through His Word and Sacrament
i. the Word is not dry, quoted, lifeless, powerless, but living, powerful, effective, accomplishing
ii. Words of Eternal life
iii. Word that endures forever
iv. face to face with the love of God in Christ Jesus on the Cross
v. commune personally with the One who gave Himself for you

e. here is profound and lasting joy—in Jesus Christ who has drawn near to us, and broken into our sadness

Sermon Talking Points:
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1. Friedrich Nietzche, the German philosopher said, “You Christians lost the world when you lost your joy.” What did he mean? How does (or would) Christian joy be magnetic to those who don’t believe? What are reasons for losing our joy?

2. Look for examples of joy in each of the three readings. Can you create joy by seeking it? Does it work to be told that you should be joyful? Can it be manufactured? Why or why not? Where does true joy come from? How is it discovered or found?

3. Explain the difference between joy and happiness. How can joy exist, even in dark times of life? Read Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 1:6-8

4. What are the things that specifically make Easter joyous? What is the joy of the resurrection? How does it make a difference that the resurrection is of the body? Luke 24:36-43 How was the presence of Jesus of great comfort and joy to them? How is the presence of God itself a source of joy? Psalm 16, esp. v. 11

5. How does the forgiveness of sins always give us cause for rejoicing? What does it mean for you to know that God will not keep a record of your sins, but has set them apart as far as the East is from the West? Psalm 103

6. How does Jesus break into our sadness with joy? How does He encounter us through Word and Sacrament? How does this bring joy?

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