Tag Archives: peace

Advent – Week Three JOY

This week Ron and I lit the third candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing JOY. It joined the lights of HOPE and PEACE.

     One of today’s most beloved Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World” was printed originally in 1719 in a collection written by Isaac Watts.

     Even though Mr. Watts didn’t intend his hymn to be a Christmas carol, the theme of “joy” surely fits when thinking about the arrival of Emmanuel.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. (Luke 2:8-10 NIV)

     The short New Testament book of Philippians is one of my favorites.

     The Apostle Paul references ‘joy’ or ‘rejoicing’ over a dozen times in the letter to his friends in Philippi. When he wrote this letter, he was under Roman house arrest, shackled 24/7 to a Roman guard. Not a very joyous place to be!

     Obviously, Paul had figured out having joy isn’t dependent on being in pleasant circumstances. I imagine he would have agreed with Henri Nouwen:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

     The decision to “choose joy” can be difficult and confusing. In Thursday’s post, I unpack the matter of joy a bit more. Until then, rejoice with me as we consider the lyrics of Joy to the World

1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

2 Joy to the earth, 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 sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows 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.

4 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, wonders of His love

May your hearts and homes be filled with Joy this third week of Advent…

Sue Reeve

P.S. Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 17th, you’ll be receiving a special notification from Listening on the Journey… Please be sure and open and follow the instructions for a Christmastime giveaway.

Above All Else Christmas Means LOVE!

     Winter Solstice came and went on December 21st. The day with the shortest period of sunlight in 2018 is now history. Slowly but surely, dark winter days will lengthen. It won’t be long until we’re watching for the first signs of Spring. Bulbs will begin poking their sweet little green heads up through still-snow-blanketed soil.

     Christmas 2018 is also now history. At our house, we’re already thinking about taking down the beautifully-decorated tree. It doesn’t look nearly as welcoming without brightly-wrapped gifts beneath. In a few days, Ron will disconnect the timer which has so faithfully turned on our cheery outdoor Christmas lights.

     Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids, 7-year-old Emmi and 3-year-old Reeve, lit the candle representing Jesus on the Advent Wreath. It joined the candles of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE.

     I now find myself asking, “Where the rubber of my faith meets the often mundane, cluttered and unkind road of life, how do I keep alive the Light of LOVE Christmas is all about?”

     The word “love” is used 202 times in the New Testament (KJV). John, the youngest of Jesus’ twelve original disciples, penned those words a whopping 71 times.

     John often described himself as the “one whom Jesus loved.” There wasn’t a doubt in John’s mind that he was beloved by Jesus, and he in turn loved Jesus deeply.

     So, how can I, how can you, love Jesus deeply?

     The Apostle John, writing words when in his elder years, provides that answer in a letter to his friends. John’s words remain relevant to you and me in the 21st Century.

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

     1 John 4:7-11 (NLT)

     These are great words. If I’m honest, however, I’ll confess that way too often, I desire to be loved by Jesus more than I want to love like Jesus. This is an area of life where I want to grow.

     As we recover from the stress of the Christmas season caused by too much—perhaps too much spending, decorating, gathering with family and friends and eating rich foods—I hope you’ll join me to reflect on the gift of God’s LOVE, JESUS.

     What if each one reading these words asked this question of God prayerfully:

Since you loved me SO much, God, how can I love you by loving others more like JESUS loved?

     Somehow, I imagine that’s a question God will like and be pleased to answer.

In closing today’s post, quoting Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol,

“…And God bless us everyone!”

Sue Reeve

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…
yes, it is Christmas every time you smile…and offer…your hand.
~ Mother Teresa

Advent – Week Two PEACE

Sue’s Note: I must apologize about the order I mentioned for the Advent candles in my first Advent post. As I said, this tradition is new to me, and I have gotten out of order. In doing a bit more research, however, I see there isn’t absolute unity concerning which candle represents which week. Thank you for understanding!

This week Ron and I lit the second candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing peace. On Week 3, we’ll explore Joy and Week 4, Love. (Today’s post contains excerpts from earlier posts written during previous Christmas seasons.)

 

     Hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, penned these words about the promised Messiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

     More than 250,000 nights later a band of angels announced the birth of that Messiah—a baby named Jesus—to a group of shepherds, declaring:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all people. (Luke 2: 14)

     Thirty-three years later the promise of peace, coming as a babe born in a lowly manger, would die a violent death on a wooden cross.

     Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke with his disciples.

     For three years, he and his beloved friends had done life together. The young men who’d left all to follow Jesus had heard his radical teaching and marveled at miracles he performed.

     Scripture records final words spoken to his friends. Jesus warned them, they would suffer horribly—to the point of martyrdom— because of their alignment with him. Then, he said…

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

     In 1863, war ravaged a divided nation. Brother fought against brother, father against son. The Civil War created many tragic tales, such as that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

     Longfellow’s son had been crippled horribly in a fierce Civil War battle. The grief he experienced as a result of his son’s injury was complicated by the earlier death of his beloved wife, Fanny, who perished in a house fire. During his time of deep despair, Longfellow wrote the words to what has become one of my favorite Christmas carols.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

…Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

     It’s been over 2000 years since angels sang their song, more than 100 since Longfellow wrote Christmas Bells. Still, we ponder peace. Evening news reports scream violence. Christians still are martyred. Mass shootings claim the lives of young students and elderly worshipers. Women and children are sold as sex slaves. Immigrants, fleeing ravaged homelands, seek asylum in a more peaceful place.

     A part of me is tempted to ask, ’Okay, so where is this Prince of Peace?’ Thoughts of world peace seem hopeless. Hate remains strong, mocking the angelic song to the shepherds one night so long ago.

     Yet, a deeper part of my soul—that place that transcends my human understanding—believes more strongly than ever in The Prince of Peace.

     In the next Listening on the Journey… post, I’ll tell you about my friends, Barb and Will. Their story of tragedy and triumph illustrates the relevance of the peace Jesus promised to leave his friends, showing how that same peace remains available to believers in the 21st Century. Until then…

May peace fill your days…

Sue Reeve