Joy to the World

Joy to the World

November 25, 2018 | Lisa Degrenia

Passage: Psalm 98

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    New Sermon Series: Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas

    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 drawing near brings us the power of new life.

    Click Here for a digital version of the Christmas Song Devotional. Printed copies are available through the church office. 

    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.
    • Ask yourself:
      • 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.

    Additional Ideas:

    • 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
    • Sing or listen to the song
    • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

    Our first song 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.

    Psalm 98:1-9

    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. 
    • 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)
      • Coming of Jesus- first and second (Psalm 98:9)
      • Jesus judges the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity (Psalm 98:9)
    • Celebrating and Trusting who Jesus is
      • King (Psalm 98:6)
        • Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; (Verse 1)
          • Present and future reality
        • Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing (Verse 1)
          • King of all creation and sits 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 love in Jesus Christ are seen in and across national boundaries
      •  Savior King (Psalm 98:1-3)
        • Though Jesus is King of Kings, he knows us intimately and offers all for our salvation
        • Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! (Verse 2)
        • 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 reverses the curse of Original Sin found in Genesis 3. Jesus' grace is greater than our 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. 

    Series Information

    The Christmas Story is full of singing. 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.

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