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Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Rejoice in the Lord Always!     

 Lk 3:7-18, Phil 4:4-7, Zeph 3:14-20

In this week’s gospel text from Luke, John the Baptiser calls the people to prepare for the coming of the “one who is more powerful than I”. When asked, “What should we do?” John’s response is blunt and quite specific: share what you have with those who don’t have – or suffer the consequences.

“Be fair in your dealings with others – don’t rip people off and be satisfied with what your lot” (my words).

John seems to saying that to avoid the axe and being “thrown into the fire” we must take care of each other rather than focus on our own wealth and spiritual salvation.

But the me-first attitude that John warns us against is never more prevalent than during the annual Christmas shopping season – a time we traditionally associate with extending kindness and goodwill to others. Yet the increasingly onerous task of finding (and affording) the right gifts for our loved ones entails trawling the shelves of crowded stores after finding a suitable parking space and a shopping trolley that behaves. The practical demands of Christmas can be frustrating and rob us of any good cheer.

When we consider national and world events such as war and hunger, natural disasters, asylum seekers and the church’s response to abuse of minors by some of its members, it can be difficult to get excited by the Apostle Paul’s repeated encouragement for us to rejoice and be gentle with each other.

But the joy Paul speaks of isn’t something we accidently find, something that erupts as a human response, rather it’s something we practise – a spiritual discipline. Just as love in its purest form is a thing that takes work – that can be seen through acts of service (see 1Cor13), so is joy also something precious that we must consciously work at amidst the trials and challenges of this life.

Rather than wait for a more convenient time to be joyful, there’s no better time than now to rejoice and prepare ourselves for the coming Christ – who has come – who will come and is with us now [Emmanuel]. Christ is our Hope, our Peace and our Joy.


Lismore Anglican Parish Bulletin Insert

Sunday 16th December 2012  7.30am Lismore, 9.30am Dunoon

Rejoice in the Lord Always!      Lk 3:7-18, Phil 4:4-7, Zeph 3:14-20

Zephaniah 3:14-20      14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. 19I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord. 

Philippians 4:4-7        4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18            7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.