Entering a Jughandle, Rotary, or Roundabout (12/6/16)

Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 in Sermons | 0 comments

As we approach Christmas, Pastor Jim has been preaching a series entitled “An Advent Road Trip.” This was the 2nd part in that series. Is Christmas just a destination? Buy the gifts, wrap the gifts, take down the tree and move on? Is there something we can take from Christmas; not only from Christmas Day but from the journey to Christmas?

The following recording is from the 11:00 service. Click on the play button, then scroll down to follow along…


Our scripture readings were from Isaiah 64:1-9 and Luke 1:39:56. Open the below drop down box to follow along. Pastor Jim read from The Living Bible. The New Living Translation is shown below…


Isaiah 64:1-9

1 Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence!

2 As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!

3 When you came down long ago, you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked!

4 For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!

5 You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?

6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

7 Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins.

8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.

9 Don’t be so angry with us, Lord. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people.

Luke 1:38-56

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town

40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth.

41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.

43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?

44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.

45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.

47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.

49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.

50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.

51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.

52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.

54 He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.

55 For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.


Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.


Chainsaw Humor…

This opening story doesn’t have anything to do with the sermon, and you may have heard this joke before.

But, just remember: ‘Tis the season to be jolly!”


What’s a Jughandle?

Under the assumption that our website audience may include listeners who are not from New Jersey, a bit of clarification may be needed regarding the title of this sermon. Here are two terms that might be specific to those of us in New Jersey…

How do you get from one highway to another? There might be an intersection with a traffic light. Or maybe there is what you might know as a “clover leaf” or “interchange.” In New Jersey we’ve come up with the term “Jughandle.” It looks like the handle on a coffee mug.

Instead of just stopping at a traffic light and turning left, we get into the right hand lane before the light, “exit” the road, then loop around to meet the light at right angles from the road we were just on. Comes in handy except for those instances where the “exit” is AFTER the light and you get to stare at that red light from both directions.

These things used to be all over our state, but we’ve since replaced most of them with Jughandles. Even if you’re out of state, you’re familiar with these: Just think of “Rotary” or “Roundabout” and you’ll be on the right path.

The main difference is that when you enter a “Rotary” in New Jersey, you’re expected to close your eyes and floor it!

The circle mentioned by Pastor Jim is so notorious that it actually has a Wikipedia article! Click this link to read up on the Airport Circle.

But circles and jughandles serve an important purpose. They help us get to our destination and help us to connect with a different road that we need to travel in order to get to our destination.


Road Trips

Advent is like a road trip. Advent connects you to a new road that you need to travel on in order to reach your destination. The destination isn’t the main point of Advent. Instead it’s the road. It’s along the journey that we learn and grow closer to God.


Isaiah’s Rough Road

The prophet is writing about the Exile before it happens. He’s anticipating a time in the not so distant future when the Israelites will travel away from home. Away from the temple. But… not away from God! He raises the challenge: How can we praise God in a foreign land? For us, how can we praise God in a hospital room or in a funeral parlor? How can we praise God when we’re holding a pink slip?

Sometimes we just wish that God would come down and straighten out the path for us

Isaiah reminds us that we’re on a road with a final destination. God will come down and “fix it.” The road may be bumpy and crooked, but it leads to Heaven. Our final destination is that perfect relationship we have with God. In the meantime, it might be scary- like a mountainous road with no guardrails. Until we reach the destination, our life comes from traveling the road that we’re on.


Mary’s Rough Road

Fast forward about 600 years later and put yourself in Mary’s shoes (sandals?). She’s engaged to be married, she’s never “been with” Joseph, and here comes this angel telling her that she’s about to become pregnant! How would you react? Imagine the problems of being a single mother; this is where she was headed, even if Joseph “quietly” divorced her (instead of having her stoned).

How would you like to drive down that road?

Mary knows the road she is facing. And yet, she tells the angel: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”


Joseph’s Rough Road

And what about poor Joe? What about his bumpy road; pot holes like ridicule, and insults. But Joseph didn’t regard God as his co-pilot. He had the faith to allow God to drive him. God parted the sea… He could part the “traffic.”

Mary and Joseph had no idea of where they were going, but they were willing to trust God.


Find Your Own Way???

Back in the late 70s, Pastor Jim decided to jump into his gold Camaro, head north, and no problem- he’d make it to Niagara Falls in a few hours. Why go way over to Syracuse and then shoot to the west. Take the direct route- head north and west; forget the easterly route! Find your own way! Grab that chain saw and push it back and forth!

Until you see a sign telling you you’re almost in Cleveland!

He finally had to ask for directions, and after taking the “right route,” he finally ended up in Niagara falls… 11 hours later. If he had just stayed the course (even thought it didn’t make sense), he’d be there sooner. God does know a better way.

Mary told the angel: “May everything you have said about me come true.


Trust God in the Potholes

Mary could have said, Lord I don’t like this road. Let me find a better way. Instead, she says that her whole being is celebrating and bringing glory to God.

Is our worship only from the head, and not from the heart? Do we praise God on Sunday morning, but what happens during the week when we hit a pothole (unexpected bill, noise in the car)? We have a choice. Do we “go nuclear” or do we just sit back and praise and trust God?

God calls us to trust Him in the direction we’re going. Yes, we encounter all sorts of circles and potholes. But like Mary, we need to trust God and let Him lead us to the ultimate destination.


There was a little boy who came home from Sunday School and his mother asked him what he had learned. The little boy said that they learned about this man named Moses who was leading some people away from the Egyptians. The Egyptians chased them until they came to a huge river and couldn’t go any further.

So Moses had his men built a bridge and then all of the people crossed over. As soon as they crossed over, Moses called an air strike in and the planes blew up the bridge so that the Egyptians couldn’t capture them.

The mother asked her son, “Are you sure that is what your teacher taught you?”

The little boy said, “No, that’s not what she said, but you would never believe the story she told us.”


The truth of the matter is, we’re on a journey. God knows the destination and all of the rest stops and all of the circles. If we just magnify Him and allow Him to do the driving, we’ll arrive at our destination safely.





Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try. If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


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