The New Commandments of Love: Blessed are the Peacemakers

This might become a series. May not. It’s more just me having Andy Rooney moments and going on old-man rants. Hope you get something out of it.


Some days I feel like a complete outsider to every Christian sub-culture. It’s no secret to most people who’ve read my previous writings that I’m sympathetic to the Eastern Orthodox position within the wave-spectrum of Christian thought, but even I get perturbed by Eastern Orthodox people who latch on to a fundamentalist, “black or white” mindset that is commonly known as “hyperdox”. Likewise, I consider myself prone to a more “liberal Christian” views on social justice, but I often am annoyed by the tribalism that can pervade even this group of open-minded individuals, with a rabid demonization of all conservative perspectives. In short, I half-jokingly refer to myself as “an anomaly of middle convictions.”

Yes, I do like to rock boats and poke bears, but I don’t particularly like it when the bears bite back. I’m a provocateur, but I’m provoking everyone. I’m trying to get in the wedge between the two sides and find the middle way. Even when my mom and dad would fight when I was little I’d get between the two of them, say “You’re both right! Now stop!” and try to be a physical manifestation of their love so they’d forget for a second their petty differences.

All this is to say that being someone who desires to see people come to their senses, I’d like to think of myself as a peacemaker. What does it really mean to be a peacemaker though? The reality is it’s a lot harder and more dangerous than it sounds. I reflect on Christ’s own words on what that means. Why do we want to pursue peace and what does it even mean to have peace?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt. 5:9)

This is supposed to be the point where I should be cracking my knuckles and give you 10 points on what it means to be a peacemaker so you can share it with your friends and say something like “I like number five. That’s so me!” I’m not going to do that. I’m also not going to tackle “Just War theory” or anything on a grander scale, because I think we first need to have a conversation on what this means from an individual level first. I’m not into giving easy answers. Rather, I’m going to let some old, (physically) dead guys tell you what they believe it means, because frankly…they know koine Greek a heck of a lot better than I do.

First up, one of my favorite preachers of the post-Nicene era, John Chrysostom, Mr. Golden-tongue himself:

Here He not only takes away altogether our own strife and hatred among ourselves, but He requires besides this something more, namely, that we should set at one again others, who are at strife. (Homily 15, Homilies on Matthew)

We are commanded to have only one enemy, the devil. With him never be reconciled! But with a brother, never be at enmity in thy heart. (Homily 20, Homilies on Matthew)

Another favorite preacher and honorable father of the Church, Basil of Caesarea has this to say:

I cannot persuade myself that without love to others, and without, as far as rests with me, peaceableness towards all, I can be called a worthy servant of Jesus Christ. (Letter 203,2)

And the coup de gras, one of my all time favorite teachers and monks, Isaac of Ninevah has this to say on peace:

Let yourself be persecuted, but do not persecute others.
Be crucified, but do not crucify others.
Be slandered, but do not slander others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep: such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.
Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone.
Be a partaker of the sufferings of all, but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept punishment in their place, do not destroy their character.

See, to me, all of these sayings point to a revolutionary idea. That idea is that no matter how right I may believe myself to be; no matter the injustice I perceive before me, I must actually follow Christ’s command to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.This dangerous idea is one that demands a sacrifice of ourselves and to be truly selfless to the point where it hurts. It demands that I give up my right to be right for Christ’s kingdom to be manifest in my life and the lives of others. It’s almost as if Jesus is daring us to let go of our own ideas ideas of justice and peace in a sense and see every person in the image of God. That’s impractical! That’s shockingly reckless! And that scares us because it means we have to give up control. Millions of martyrs throughout history gave up their control and we exalt their memory for it.

The other side to this coin is that when we see people being oppressed or being encompassed by the mob, lynched for their crimes by the masses; no matter how despicable that person may seem, we are to approach that person with love and to shout down the furious hatred rising from the mob, which is breaking into the world like a cancer. Does this mean we never speak out, never stand up and that we let all evil people go free? No. Here’s what it does mean: you do not exchange your humility and peacemaking imperative just because you have some moral upper-hand. You don’t exchange the gospel of peace for a poison, even a poisonous tongue (James 3:1-12), just because you are not identified as a pedophile, rapist, murderer or thief and the other person is. You do and you put tribal justice before a kingdom imperative.

Solidarity is a powerful tool to stand up to power, but it is also a fearsome weapon, able to ensue chaos and a whirlwind that can catch up the innocents in it’s wake. As an example of this, consider the nation’s founders of the United States who saw that such a problem could occur, which is why they segmented the democratic republic and created check’s and balances. The “tyranny of the majority” is just as frightening.

Every person is made in the image of God, from the money-grubbing pastor to the petty thief to the Wall Street executive. Let’s seek justice for those who have been hurt in the wake of injustice by evil men, but let’s remember that the evil that lurks in the hearts of all men can just as easily blind us and numb us from our sins, so we then justify our actions through righteous indignation. In world where hashtags on Twitter and rumors on Facebook can quickly destroy someone’s life, to be a peacemaker is a dangerous ideology because it asks you to give up your vendetta (even if it’s a “just” one) and your control and let the King of the Universe take them into His hands.

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mark driscoll speaking

Common Hatred: Why Loving Our Enemies Is So Hard

(Read the full article on Theologues.com)

What do Adolph Hitler, Fred Phelps and Justin Bieber have in common?

They are people we love to hate – to varying degrees, of course. In each case, society has made a verdict. (Of course, Justin Bieber is an exception; he is not considered a truly evil person … just a brat.)

It’s easy for each of us to forgive and love our neighbor – someone we already have a relationship with, or at least no real disdain for. But it’s a whole lot harder to forgive and love serial murderers, bigots, despots, pedophiles, thieves, and people who have committed acts so heinous that to even extend forgiveness is seen as weakness or injustice. Essentially, it’s harder to love people that our society has already found to be evil in the sight of the world.

(Read the full article on Theologues.com)

Perfect Love Casts Out War

Read full post on Theologues.com


 

The Machine of War

As I’m writing this, the news is breaking that Israel has invaded Gaza. This is the culmination of weeks of tension, which has now ratcheted up to all-out war. I can only observe this from a distance. I’m able to see the bloodshed and tears through video and pictures, on my TV screen while sitting in the comfort of my own living room. I don’t want to dismiss the lives of men, women and children who have been lost on either side.

This is why I want to be very careful in what I’m about to say.

The world today is in many ways safer but also scarier than it was past centuries. We also have bigger and more deadly weapons, capable of ending millions of lives in an instant. We continue to live in this cycle of war, in spite of our best intentions. We shroud the implications of death and violence with consequential reasons for defending the weak and the innocent. We constantly try to justify war through our belief that God sees is it as a moral imperative. My question is, “who or what really controls us when each individual has to decide the value of life, even the lives of those we deem ‘evil’?” I don’t believe it is God. I believe it is fear.  The question Christians need to ask is “why are we afraid when we have perfect love over us?”


 

Read full post on Theologues.com

Five Things Friday – March 21st, 2014

Here are 5 things for this week I love and hope you’ll love too!

1. This 11 year old gets some big news and is overcome with emotion.

2. From RELEVANT: Why Fred Phelps’ Death Isn’t Cause for Celebration

3. St. Brigid of Ireland knew what a man wants

4. I admit this made me laugh.

5. The luckiest bonus round on Wheel of Fortune EVER.

O Death, Where is Thy Sting? (Pt. 2)

After death, what happens to us as Christians. We believe we will have resurrected bodies, but then what? To be frank, much of it is a mystery, but we have a long tradition of Christians who loved and studied the scriptures who have provided a sort of framework we can look to.

As I started to study orthodox Christianity, the questions of heaven and hell became even more clear to me. The Eastern Orthodox church doesn’t subscribe to heaven and hell as being places, but as being states. The Bible uses terms of location because that’s what we can understand, but where God is, there is no navigable space. Since we will be with God, we will be in the same state of being and resurrected into new bodies. Our reality will be tangible and fleshy but also singular with no outside dimensions. The God who fills all’s presence will be completely revealed to us.

One of my favorite church fathers, St. Isaac of Syria described heaven and hell both being in terms of God’s love. He says this on those experiencing “heaven”:

Paradise is the love of God, wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness.

The person who lives in love reaps the fruit of life from God, and while yet in this world, even now breathes the air of the resurrection.

In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.

Later, he has this to say about hell and how love affects both the faithful and unfaithful to God:

As for me I say that those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful.

St. Isaac shows that it is we who will still have the choice to accept or reject the love of God. The problem with rejecting the love of God is that it will be like rejecting air. You can’t escape it because it sustains and upholds your very life.

I’d like to include one more quote from George MacDonald. He was a great influencer of C.S. Lewis, and this is what he had to say about love:

Love is one, and love is changeless. For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds….Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed. And God is our consuming fire.

it’s important to note that there are other views of hell, where it is a total annihilation of soul and there’s also the theory of universal reconciliation, which I lean towards but not 100% completely.

So, if I may connect the dots here – death has been defeated by Jesus Christ. All of us who participate in the love and grace given to us through Christ’s death will find that after we pass from this life into the next, love will ever consume us, but we will be ready for it. For those who rejected it (whether in word or deed), there’s a strong chance they’ll be consumed by love, but they won’t find it pleasant. Jesus says as much in Matthew 8:12. What makes us ready is only the grace of God.

And lest we believe that “outer darkness” means that God is not present, don’t forget Psalms 139:8. There is no place that God is not. That is a terrifying thought, but also hopeful because if God will never leave us, even in the darkness, there’s a chance that He may continually be extending His love to the hardhearted into eternity. And maybe those hard hearts soften after time. May take several millennia, but it’s possible. Does that make me a universalist? I don’t necessarily think so. I think it makes me an optimist.

I still don’t fear death for myself, but I also don’t fear it for my family either. When I die, I know I have a right Judge who knows me and will do rightly with me. The same will be for my family. I am ready to die for Him today, tomorrow, forever.

(Read part 1 here.)

Resources on the Orthodox understanding of death, heaven & hell:

Paradise and Hell According to Orthodox Tradition

Lecture by Fr. John Behr – The Final Frontier

7 Quotes About God’s Love

Every now and then I hope to post a series of quotes from early Church and Eastern Orthodox  saints. This post is all about “love”, towards God, to one’s fellow man and His love for us. The love of God is beautiful!

1. I cannot persuade myself that without love to others, and without, as far as rests with me, peaceableness towards all, I can be called a worthy servant of Jesus Christ.

– Saint Basil the Great, Homilies on the Psalms

2. God, Who is by nature good and dispassionate, loves all men equally as His handiwork. But He glorifies the virtuous man because in his will he is united to God.

– St. Maximos the Confessor

3. A friend is more to be longed for than the light; I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for it were better for us that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends.

– St. John Chrysostom

4. Let no man’s place, or dignity, or riches, puff him up; and let no man’s low condition or poverty abase him. For the chief points are faith towards God, hope towards Christ, the enjoyment of those good things for which we look, and love towards God and our neighbor.

– St. Ignatius of Antioch

5. When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.

– Basil the Great

6. In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the one who has preformed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.

– St. Isaac of Syrian

7. As a handful of sand thrown into the ocean, so are the sins of all flesh as compared with the mind of God.

– St. Isaac the Syrian

The Opposite of Sin

I was rocking my four year-old daughter tonight and we had our usual ritual of nightly prayer. When we had said “Amen” I asked her if she knew what “sin” was. She said “no” and so I explained to her that sin was when we fall short of what God wants for us. It’s when we do bad things and purposefully make bad choices, like disobey or lie. She had that concept pegged.

But then (after she picked her nose) my daughter asked “What’s the opposite thing?”

“The opposite of what?”, I asked (after telling her not to pick her nose).

“Sin.”

“Hmm…good question”, I said. “I don’t think there’s an opposite. I think it’s just ‘being good’.”

But as I thought about that a little more, that didn’t sound quite right. Then, I remembered…the opposite of sin is virtueI then explained to my daughter what virtue means and why it’s important for us to not just be good, but to be virtuous, like Christ.

Our culture seems to have lost the word “virtue” in our moral vocabulary. “Virtue” used to be everywhere. You can read old Victorian books and even more ancient texts to see it everywhere. Where did it go? I recently looked up the definition of virtue and this is what I found:

vir·tue
ˈvərCHo͞o
  • behavior showing high moral standards.
  • a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.

A lightbulb went on over my head.

Moral good in and of itself is pretty much the minimal standard, but virtue is the highest attainment of that standard. If we believe that God wants us to be free from sin and to be set apart, holy before God, then the attainment of virtue is a part of our life. We will sin. We will fail. But we also have more than one path. With every decision we stand at a fork where we can choose sin or virtue. The Spirit is constantly calling us to choose virtue.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3)

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (2 Peter 1:5)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

So, when I tell my daughter I want her to be good, I want her to know that’s just the start. I want her to be a decent human being, but I also want her to acquire virtue, which keeps a human being decent in the worst circumstances. This is also built on “integrity”. Even non-believers are good, but God calls us to fix our eyes on the good that comes from Him. Virtue is the attributes in Christ we are to emulate, so as to be united with Him in the Light of His goodness. It is the attributes that make up His character.

The Greek word for virtue translates to “habitual excellence”. I like this definition because it describes the higher moral nature of virtue. But we are all human, right? We all screw up. So, why is it important for us to excel in moral behavior and to teach our children the same when it’s so hard? St. John Chrysostom says in a beautiful way why are to teach children virtue:

When we teach children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving (all these are attributes of God), to be generous, to love their fellow men, to regard this present age as nothing, we instill virtue in their souls, and reveal the image of God within them.

And this is the crux of all of our moral striving. We are not being good for goodness sake. We are being virtuous for the revealed image of God in each of us.

I want my children when they’re older and are teenagers to remember back to what I taught them about abstaining from sin. I want them to believe in their hearts that the reason they make the right choices is not so God won’t smite them, but is because He has made them to be something more. They are beautiful souls trapped in temporal bodies. The more virtue they acquire, the more visible this is in them, to themselves and to the world around them.

I’ll give an example of where virtue shines forth in the world right now.

The country of Ukraine is going through a violent revolution as we speak. Monks from a monastery near Kiev and priests within the city have taken it upon themselves to get between the police that are wanting to do violence to the protesters and the protesters wanting to do violence to the police. They stood (and may still be standing as of the time of this post) hour after hour, taking shifts, because they believe the love of their fellow man and for God compels them. Jesus Christ is in their midst and their virtue is self-evident.

The Holy Spirit expresses these characteristics through us.  What are the virtues exactly? I think we could find a root list in the scriptures, when Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I often hear the phrase “world-changer” a lot in the evangelical community. It seems to be the big buzz word right now. But how do you go about changing the world? Do you start a bunch of programs? Do you make people feel good about themselves? I believe excellence starts with Christ, but it is perpetuated by the acquisition of virtue. You are called to be more than a good person. You are called to be filled with the divine presence of God. This presence calls us daily to die to ourselves and be filled with the character of God and His virtue.

If you want to change the world, acquire the Holy Spirit. Acquire the virtues from the Holy Spirit. Be more than good. Be virtuous.

Where the Light Gets In: A Story from My Family

Lost people come into our lives and we reach out to rescue them, but some don’t want to be saved.

This is a story about my family. Specifically, it’s a story about someone my family met and loved as best as we could.

Mom was always bringing in stray human beings to our home.  She would often meet people with a wounded past at church or through mutual friends and before long, they’d be staying at our house. She didn’t go looking for these people, but she saw a need and she decided to fill it. I can remember numerous young men and women who my parents became sort of “ad hoc” parents for and after awhile they’d move on. Some of these people remained wounded and some sought help, and got back on their feet, but they all had an impact on our family.

I remember in my teen years, Mike, the rascally, good ol’ boy with a thick southern drawl and a battered psyche. Mike had gone through a Christian rehabilitation program and my mom and dad knew him through a ministry which had good Christian people like my parents volunteer to drive the guys in the program to our church on Sunday mornings.

My mom tells the story of how we met Mike and how she was affected by him:

“Don’t remember the year, I believe it was somewhere between 2005-2007.  We use to go pick up these guys once in a while and take them to church with us.  One day we picked up three guys and Mike was one of them.  We would always ask them their story on the way to church, so began to learn a bit about Mike at that time.  We invited them over for dinner the next week, and that’s where the relationship really began.

“Mike was from Tennessee.  He had this big, bold voice with a Tennessee accent that would shake a room when he talked; and when he laughed, oh my!  I usually connect pretty quickly with young men, God has given me a heart for them.  We sat and talked as we ate, and he told us a bit more about his story.

“He was a Pastors son, and an only child.  When he was 3 years old his mother up and left him and started another family with another man.  Mike never got over this abandonment, and to this day I feel that was one of the reasons he couldn’t get past a certain point in his life.  When he got a little older, his dad did the same thing, started a new family with someone else.  Leaving Mike feeling abandoned altogether, and never getting approval or feeling loved from any of them.  The only person he was really close to were his grandparents, he lived with them a lot, and they stayed with him through everything he went through in his life.  I believe his grandmas name was Rose, he loved her so much and talked about her all the time.

“Mike had been in this Christian rehabilitation program for drug and alcohol addiction.  The program was really good at preaching grace, but not very good at showing it.  They had very strict rules for these adult men (Mike was 30 or 32 when we met), and treated them a lot like children.  Early curfews and a short stick.  Mike went against the leader of the houses rules, and left to buy a new pair of pants for a job.  They told him he was bucking authority, and that it just wasn’t going to work.

“Mike called me and we talked about it, and he needed a place to stay.  We didn’t know him very well at this time, but I have a heart for stray, wounded people from broken families for some reason, I asked Jeff (dad) and he said “okay”.

“Mike lived with us 2-3 times.  There was at least once we had to tell him to not come around because he kept getting into trouble.  I would always help him if I could, but there comes a place where helping him is hurting him, and I have always been aware of those boundaries.

“He lived out on his own, but had a hard time keeping a job and money because he also liked to gamble.  We loved on him, he knew we loved him, but his strongholds were just too big.  He would cry out to the Lord and the Lord would rescue him, but he could never stay in that place.  I know he knew Jesus, he just didn’t know how to get over the past hurts in his life.  He also had a very guilty conscience, so when he would mess up, he was his worst condemner.

“The last time he lived with us he was actually on house arrest.  It was for a couple of weeks.  After he got off of house arrest, he was planning to go back to Tennessee.  We loved this guy so much.  He would drive me crazy, but he had a very sweet, soft heart.  We knew, and he knew, and his grandma knew that if he went back to Tennessee he wouldn’t make it because there was too much temptation there.  I remember standing around him, while he was sitting in the chair, and our family wept and prayed over him, trying to get him to stay.  We just knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“I wanna say it was about 6 months after he moved back to Tennessee that I got the dreaded call.  He had committed suicide.  He had a girlfriend in Tennessee, and after his grandma called me I called her.  I got the number from his grandma.  She told me that Mike had gone out to buy some nice clothes two days before he died, which lets me know he was probably planning this.  She said he would get drunk, and be talking to God and repenting while he was drunk.  He was so messed up.  We cried together, and I hung up the phone.  I was so sad.  I loved him like an adopted son.

“I believe with all of my heart that he is with Jesus.  God loves the broken hearted and understands their pain.  So I have no question in my mind that he knew Mikes heart, and that he had Mikes heart as much as he knew how to give it.”

What I have learned under my mom and dad is that love is vulnerable. Love takes chances to reach out and bring comfort to the unloved. However, sometimes the unloved are consumed by their own inner demons to the point of no return.

All we can do as Christians is be present, be vulnerable and be willing to make a place in are home for stray human souls, just as God made a home for us in a lost world through Christ. Christ in us may be the only crack of light in a pitch black world for some people. Our call is to be present and love the unloved because He first loved us.

A special thank you to my mom for contributing her story.

A Clash with Christmas Lights and a King

Turning seasonal frustration over wealth and greed into an inward change.

The other night, we loaded up our kiddies into the van and went hunting for spectacular Christmas light displays. We drove to the far reaches of the upper-class suburbs, journeying from our humble abode in a lower-class urban district. It felt a lot like driving through a different country. Everything from the streets to the beautiful architecture of the homes was different.

I realized as we were driving through the ritzy neighborhoods that we were basically taking a tour of wealth on full display. Many of these houses had such intricate and expensive Christmas displays that you just know a crew of people were paid to come put the whole thing up. It was audacious and a bit frustrating, considering the amount of people who could have been clothed, fed and sheltered with the thousands spent on the Christmas displays. I felt myself become a bit angered by it.

As we rounded out our tour at the mansion with six giant firs draped in dazzling blue electric wonder, I then felt another thought that made my heart sink a bit – I was contributing to this lavish display. The wealthy folks out in the boonies may have spent their wealth on something I consider ridiculous, but there I was, pointing and smiling with my kids at the dazzling lights too. I was just as much a part of this lavish wastefulness.

So I had to contemplate how I am just a cog in a complicated world where the disparity between the world’s richest poor people and the world’s poorest poor is a chasm. Should I feel so guilty about contributing to the gross indulgence of these expensive light displays? Should I even be showing lights off to my kids, by enforcing on them that it’s OK to spend $20,000 on lights for people to gawk at outside their house?

So, that was the cynical side of me talking and it only made me more frustrated as we drove down the “Street of Dreams” in our city. But then, the optimist, happy-go-lucky side of me piped up and said that I needed to stop acting like such a self-righteous jerk, I go to Starbucks almost every other week. I own a car that, while used and fairly inexpensive for me, it would be about a year’s wage for some citizens of third-world nations. I own a house, for crying out loud. A large majority of the world doesn’t own their own home.

My frustration started to turn into sad introspection, but I then had to turn to God and realize that I can only do the best with what He’s given me. Like the servant in the Parable of the Talents, I will be responsible with what I’m given into my hands. I’m not responsible for the things I can’t control. He is. I can instead focus on the fact that I have children who I’ve been charged to teach that their stewardship is important as well. I am charged to show them what it means to sacrifice, serve and give. I’ve been pretty crappy about that myself.

Christmas lights aren’t evil. Probably many people that are wealthy enough to decorate their homes with lights aren’t evil (as far as I know, but who really knows how many Mr. Potters reside in their city, anyway).  What I can say is that we are living in a world with such huge problems we may feel that we need to despair at the sheer volume of it all.  Yet, the whole point of Christmas is that God came down to bring peace on earth and joy to all.  He has called us to manifest that hope to the world through doing what we can in the time we’re given.  We don’t ignore the world’s problems, but we also realize that we’ve been given a gift by God which we must share to all people.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sound in joy

No more let sin and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of his love
And wonders of his love
And wonders and wonders of his love