hope and joy amid our pain, grief & messiness

hope1Advent & Christmas greetings to you.
Our church in Oxley, Brisbane held its annual outdoor Community Carols last night. A great night; 400+ attended, great carol-singing, wonderful sense of community and sparkling and engaging jazz music by guest band, Scat.

I was invited, as is the norm, to share a brief message on the theme; ” Joy to the World”. I struggled with that thought. Events in Newton, Connecticut impacted on my thoughts, prayers and preparations. Thought I’d share what I presented under a beautiful Brisbane evening summer sky. My theme:HOPE & JOY


Our theme for tonight is JOY. Joy to the world the Lord is come. That “joy” theme runs through so many of our much-loved Christmas carols:

Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive its king
Joyful, all you nations rise, join the triumph of the skies
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant …


But yesterday morning, just like others around the world, I was confronted with the news – just over a week before Christmas – that 28 people, mostly primary-school kids, had lost their lives in a tragedy at a primary school in Connecticut, USA.

My heart bleeds for these kids and staff, and the families left behind. I shed plenty of tears as I started taking this in, mindful of course that in parts of the world such as Africa, children die in their 1000s.

I’ll get to JOY, but for a few moments I want to change tack. HOPE is another of the great words of this Christmas season.HOPE.

You see, HOPE is every bit at the heart of Christmas as JOY.
It’s not only our hearts that bleed and break for innocent children; innocent school staff with their lives needlessly cut short.

God bleeds. God’s heart gets broken too. God weeps.
God’s hopes and longings and love for our world … for you and me were so great that 2000+ years ago, God chose to do something decisive in history.

God gave God’s only Son. God came among us. God gave Jesus for us all; Jesus Christ – God’s love gift we celebrate every Christmas.

This Jesus was born in poverty. This Jesus was lain in a cattle feed trough. This Jesus would grow up – he would teach, he would heal, he would love the unlovable, he would do amazing things – and more than anything point to HOPE: the HOPE that comes in knowing God’s life& love in a way that not only makes a difference to our own life, but makes the world a better place. HOPE.

But that wasn’t enough. This Jesus – this baby of Bethlehem dies a really horrible, cruel death on a cross for the whole of creation and yes: you and me.

On that cross, Jesus bleeds for us … and all who suffer now and throughout history. And then, this Jesus rises to new life, and calls us to embrace this new life for ourselves. In his coming, his dying, his living, Jesus offers a better way: the way of HOPE.

A way that’s about making the world a better place … a brighter place … a more compassionate place … a more peaceful, tolerant, welcoming and inclusive place … a more Godly place.
A place where pain and sorrow, war and terror become a thing of the past.

Jesus came … Jesus comes at Christmas … and every single waking and sleeping moment of the year to offer HOPE.

A HOPE that’s bound up in the life God alone offers: faith, love, peace, joy and hope that we’re invited to welcome afresh into our hearts and lives this Christmas. It’s a HOPE this world can’t take away. God’s HOPE is for always.

My favorite Christmas carol has the line:
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in you tonight.

Friends, God offers his HOPE to you tonight.
Bring your hopes and fears to God tonight, for God loves you so much that he gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, so that all who believe in him – who welcome that HOPE and LOVE, will receive life forever.

Throughout the scriptures we find God’s word of HOPE to us. Again and again.
Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

HOPE and JOY are bound up in that one verse. With HOPE, in time, there comes JOY- a deep joy beyond human imagining – all bound up in the love and new life of Jesus Christ. May we celebrate with JOY this Christmas, but especially may we know … may we show God’s HOPE for the world – Jesus, the Christ, Emmanuel – God with us.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let Earth .. and all who live in it, receive its King. Amen

2 Responses to “hope and joy amid our pain, grief & messiness”

  1. 1 Jen December 17, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Thanks, David – timely words in the midst of the pain that breaks our hearts. God’s love, hope and joy overcomes everything and it is good to be reminded of that.

  2. 2 David MacGregor December 17, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Blessings, Jenny. It’s been a tough year for you. Reach out amid it all to God’s hope and love and joy in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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