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Rejoice always

December 20, 2017
By Pastor Roger Lemke ( , Pine Island Eagle

We sing: "Tis the season to be jolly. Don we now our gay apparel. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la."

This week has been a time of joy with the "Evening in December" Christmas Cantata and the evening of "Lessons and Carols." This is a time of joy because more than any other time of the year, more than in any other season, the name "Jesus" is on our lips as we join the joyous song of the angels: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Lk. 2:14).

Of course, we don't all sound like angels. At Winn-Dixie, I passed a Salvation Army's bell ringer who, with a unique voice, was singing: "Joy to the World." I smiled a "Merry Christmas" and she said: "I just sing to kill time." I replied: "I admit you do have quite a weapon there." However, no matter how terrible our voice, no matter how overwhelming the situation, music lifts our spirits to the heavens. Music is contagious. As I was pulling out my shopping cart, a lady came in singing: "Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns" as she continued with the off-tune singer's song.

Music is contagious; it lifts our spirits and helps us to walk cheerfully through this world. The early Christians did not say: "Look what the world is coming to" but "Look what has come to the world!" In the "manger," we see that God emptied Himself of all heavens's royalty as the word became flesh and dwelled among us" (Jn. 1:14). Because of what has come to the world, Paul tells us that we should: "Rejoice always!" (1 Thess. 5:16).

In order to brag that you have part of the Bible memorized, you might want to memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:16 it's only two words: "Rejoice always." It doesn't say: "Rejoice sometimes" or "Rejoice when you are having a good time," it says: "Rejoice always!" Why? Because the Gospel is never advice, nor explanation of current events, nor a time-table to the rapture. The Gospel is tidings of good news about what God has done, and these tidings from God should bring about a rapturous change of mood and personality.

Rejoice always because the Babe of Bethlehem became the Lamb of Calvary and the joy of His salvation is a free gift to all who will receive it. God's will for your life is that the joy of Christmas should take up residence in your hearts and that you should wear this joy on beaming with gladness faces. Why? Because your joy might be the only good news among the emptiness and bad news that a stranger may receive.

Roger Lemke is pastor of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church. The church is at 10360 Stringfellow Road. Call 239-283-1170 for service times and/or additional information about programs offered.



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