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Joy is among us

December 23, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent4th Sunday of Advent

“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John 1:19-28

Philippians 4:4-7
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 102

The topic for this fourth Sunday of Advent is “Joy is approaching”. The question is whether or not we can feel that joy?
Can you really feel the joy of our Savior Jesus Christ’s coming? Many may be asking, what joy? What would be the cause of the joy that we feel at this time of the year? Well, we’re not talking about the joy that can come from holidays, family reunions, trips or material gifts. We’re talking about the true joy that only God can give you, which should be in the hearts of all who call themselves as Christians. Are you happy today? Are you a person full of joy? If no, why you are not happy? What is the problem that causes your unhappiness? Jesus Christ came to bring us joy. This joy is infinite and wants to dwell in our lives. This joy is not dependent on external things or your moods or feelings. This joy is a true fact. This joy is already here, and is available at all times. It is at hand. There is no need to run after happiness for a lifetime and to destroy and wear oneself out just to get it. This joy is free, is real and is in our midst.

Let’s see what people normally think about joy and tranquility:

“It was an ordinary day. A poor farmer hears a noise under the plow wheel rake and looks puzzled as he finds that he has unearthed a trunk filled with gold coins; an immeasurable fortune! Our man drags the trunk to the front of his ranch and buries it deep in his garden.
For days and days he thinks and rethinks: What should I do with all that? He imagines what he could buy but decides to leave it buried … After all, with that treasure, anything can be resolved. This trunk full of gold coins, he decides, will be his safety net in the event of an unforeseen calamity or a tough season.

The security of having his buried treasure substantially changes the character of our man of caution; he is transformed and becomes relaxed, he goes from being grumpy and reserved to being bubbly and friendly; he eliminates fear and intolerance and exchanges them for trust, faith and compassion. In fact, now he sees life as a beautiful and happy experience, knowing that while things may come hard, one can address them.

All of this human being’s life is turned upside down. This occurs for him, his family, friends and relatives, and he even begins to transform the state of the region. He is turning into a man that has been tried, is positive and influential and has a substantially enlarged framework. This limitless abundance now characterized his life.
After many years of good living, the last hours of this remarkable and loved man came. Before passing away, he gathered his children and revealed his amazing and well kept secret. With this, he quietly dies in peace.

The next day, very early, his children busily dig in the right place and find the trunk. But, to everyone’s surprise, it is empty; the coins had been stolen by some adventurers more than 10 years ago.

What was the real treasure? It was not the fact of being rich which gave security and happiness to our hero, but rather, the idea that there was such a wealth and happiness. The most important thing was the interpretation and attitude that was awoken in this man.

This story gives us a perspective on the power of our thoughts.
When we feel that we are unhappy, cast away, forgotten, not deserving of something, or decidedly evil, we must realize the special power we may be giving to our thoughts. Let us hasten to change our mental status and dig up our treasure.

For us Christians, that treasure, or rather, the idea we have of the existence of this treasure, is not based on the safety of our thoughts or concrete material treasure. The idea of this treasure is based on a God that is much greater than any material treasure. It is based on a real God who intervenes in our lives, satisfies us spiritually and materially, takes care of us and gives us the things we need.

A good question this morning could be: How would your life be today if you knew that all will be well in your life? You would have a healthy and happy life. Despite all the sad and ugly things you’ve experienced in your life, you will know that you will come out ahead. Despite all the times of economic shortage, you will know that you will overcome them and that you’ll probably live a long and blessed life. How would you feel now if you knew that?

Surely, you would feel confident, cheerful, happy and peaceful. Well, today I want to tell you that all this will be true and real, if you decide to trust Jesus Christ. He is our treasure. He assures us all of this, but it all depends on you. Everything depends on whether or not you to believe in him, as this treasure is already among us. It’s here.

The question is whether or not you’ve noticed it. Jesus is not only in the material and momentary things of a Christmas party. Jesus is with us every day. He is with us every day, hoping you’ll decide to believe in him. This also happened to the Pharisees who were asking John about the messiah. John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”.
Jesus is among us. Do not be expecting something else. There are, however, many who still do not know that or do not realize it. The joy is already here. It is present the moment you chose to believe in him. It has been since the moment you were born. Have you ever noticed that? Why are you waiting to trust him and to allow him to grant you this joy and everything that you need? Amen.

Rev. Enzo Pellini

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