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Count It All Joy!

Rev. Jackie Advent 2017

December 20, 2017

Well, we're almost there. We are just FIVE days away from what we call Christmas, the day we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. I wonder what life was like for Mary the 5 days before she gave birth. Somehow I doubt she was shopping or decorating. I don't believe she was prepping food to cook or hanging lights. She certainly was not wrapping gifts although she was carrying the greatest gift the world would ever know.

Five days before Mary gave birth, she may have been traveling. According to the gospel of Luke, she and her husband Joseph had to leave Nazareth and report to Bethlehem for the census. It was about a four to five day walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The men had to register in their hometown so they could be counted for taxation by the Roman Empire. Who could imagine some 2000 years later, TAXES would still be adversely impacting the masses. Today, our empire passed a heinously deceptive tax bill that benefits the wealthy, burdens the middle class and decimates the poor. Although it's been billed as a "massive tax cut", millions of us will end up paying more under this new plan. Corporations receive permanent cuts while certain individuals receive temporary reductions. It repeals the individual healthcare mandate leaving 13 million more Americans uninsured by 2027. This new plan increases the deficit by 1.45 trillion dollars with no clear plan to pay for the increase.

While this plan was being debated again today, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson was called upon to offer prayer during the Presidential Cabinet meeting. I listened as he prayed that God "give us a spirit of gratitude, compassion and common sense" in what he called "this time of discord, distrust and dishonesty”. I confess: I laughed and in that moment understood exactly why Mary sang her song known as the Magnificat! In spite of the circumstances she faced and the empire could not escape, she was clear about the character and nature of her God. I am not certain of whom Dr. Carson petitioned but I know the God of Mary has very different concerns than the god of empire.

The God of Mary, has regard for the low estate of God's servants

The God of Mary, is Mighty and has done great things - Holy is God's name

The God of Mary, has mercy of those who fear God from generation to generation

The God of Mary shows strength through God's actions

The God of Mary scatters the proud in the imagination of their hearts

The God of Mary pulls down the mighty from their thrones

The God of Mary exalts those of low degree

The God of Mary fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away

Is it any wonder why her soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in the God of her salvation? We have lit the candle of joy. There are times when our reasons for joy our shrouded by the burdens of our everyday reality. But James left an instruction for us in the first chapter. James 1: 2-3 says we must "COUNT IT ALL JOY." It refers to trials and tribulations that test our faith in God. These times increase our ability to endure and endurance will carry us all the way through to the purpose of God for it. So today, I make a decision in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of this season to COUNT IT ALL JOY....The God of Mary has placed Joy on the inside that will soon bring Joy to the world! This joy we have, the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away.

COUNT IT ALL JOY!

Blessings to you!

Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson
Assistant Pastor