It is ok to rejoice. Really it is!
December 13th & 14th, 2010
a conference in a Presbyterian church in
key here is not so much rejoice, as the phrase “in the Lord”. Our Lord’s presence, and mercy is not
momentary or occasional. He says
“Rejoice in the Lord Always, again I’ll say rejoice”. You
see we can’t speak of the word rejoice outside of the Lord. This rejoicing is not merely bucking up and
recognizing life is easier if we were happy rather than being sad. It is not disengaging from life and placing
some fake smile when frankly things just aren’t so hot. Sort of like those laugh tracks on comedies
which are piped in to help the audience “get the humor” (something I’ve noticed
to be less and less common). In other
words this joy is realistic joy. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a
little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter
1:6). In that same book Peter
writes “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that
you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” In virtually every situation
we find ourselves in, some connection can be made to Christ. If we suffer, he has suffered on
candle on the advent wreath is sometimes referred to as the shepherds candle. Remember when the angel appeared to the
shepherds and said in the midst of their fear, “do not be afraid I bring you good news of Great joy that will be for
all people.” Today in the town of
Our text says rejoice in the Lord always! Let your gentleness be evident to all because the Lord is near. We know he is near in Jesus, in his Word, in his meal, and in the water and word of the cleansing flood of baptism. Jesus mercy is near, but we also know that his second coming is near. James 5:8 says “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” Even 1 Peter says “rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” The obvious theme is that rejoicing isn’t merely what God has done, and is doing, but it is what He will do. Things will be made right. He will come to judge the living and the dead. This is good news.
tend to be a little hesitant with joy, because we know that things can turn on
a dime. Our nature, my nature, is to not
get to excited when things go well. We
“don’t want to press” our luck. Or how
about this? Three good things happen and
we are thinking we’ve had our allotment.
Two years of good crop yields is a bit much to ask for. Luther once said that to have a God is to
expect good things from him (Large Catechism, First Commandment). Obviously we things can change on a dime, in
our family, but Jesus is still the same. His love for us is still the same, and
his work on
There is a joyful crescendo when it comes to the Christmas accounts. Zechariah, and Mary both pen songs of rejoicing at hearing the birth of their Savior. The rejoicing comes down from heaven as the angels rejoice among the shepherds. This rejoicing is now part of the life of the shepherds as they returned after hearing about and seeing the Savior in a manger. Yet, this rejoicing doesn’t just come as a result of the King, this rejoicing comes from the king himself. And guess who is the object of his singing?
In our reading from Zephaniah it speaks about Christ’s love for his people. I quote “The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty one who will save; he willrejjoice over you with glandess, he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”. Can you imagine, someone singing about you and your life? Are you worthy of this divine love song? Not really, but Jesus is near, he is at hand, don’t be anxious about anything. Come to him with prayer and thanksgiving, because Jesus has made a way for you and a way for me. We rejoice in him, because amazingly he rejoices in us!
One preacher who preached on this text wrote that when he was a boy growing up on the South Side of Chicago, my friends and used to ride our bikes over to the house of Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. She rode in a huge Cadillac limo, and he loved watching her step out of her house and into her car. She was something of a legend in our neighborhood. Recently I heard that Mahalia for many years was under pressure to become a blues singer. Instead, she stayed with her exuberant Gospel songs, saying that the authentic Christian note is joy or rejoicing. She considered blues to be songs of despair, while Gospel songs she saw as songs of hope. Joy is the authentic Christian note. No wonder Paul encourages us to “rejoice in the Lord always. Go ahead release your balloons. Go ahead, release your balloons. Amen. 
Eldon Weisheit, Homiletic