In the New Testament, we read how Christians were routinely persecuted. They were harassed, beaten, flogged, thrown in prison, or killed. Yet the Apostles suffering caused the leaders of the early church to rejoice. This is the paradox of sacrifice. We will focus on this paradox in a message titled, “Giving from the Heart: Paradox of Sacrifice.”
As Easter people we are called to dance our dances of freedom for all the world to see – even and perhaps especially in times of great difficulty. Dances of hope. Dances of justice. Dances of love. During this post-resurrection season let us recapture the joy of living in the beloved community and extending that fellowship through our witness to the world as we dare to dance again.
The Emperor Augustus of the Roman empire was the most powerful man on the planet. He was also the wealthiest man in the Empire. He was called son of God, Savior of the world, King of Kings and Lord. Yet while Augustus was ruling, a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem would have far greater impact that Augustus. Eventually all the titles used for a Augustus would be used to describe Jesus. Today we honor Jesus and not Augustus.
Mary came from an insignificant town named Nazareth. Most people who knew of Nazareth looked down on it. Yet God selects a girl from Nazareth to bring Jesus into the world. A young girl from a nowhere place plays a big role in the beginning of Christianity. God’s choice of Mary tells us about God’s preference to use the lowly and the least likely to do His work in the world.
The Bible is full of joy. There are more than 400 passages in the Bible about joy. But some of the passages in the Bible are about having joy in the midst of adversity. That seems to be surprising. How do we find joy if we are struggling? How do we find joy when there seems to be no hope? In this message we will take a look at finding joy in difficult places.
The joy of the Lord is our strength!
Sermon preached at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church in Gold Canyon, Arizona on December 10, 2017 by Rev. Fred A. Steinberg
Sermon preached at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church in Gold Canyon, Arizona on December 18, 2016 by Rev. Fred A. Steinberg