Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fear Not! Peace On Earth! Joy!

There is so much on my mind this Advent Season. My family has so very much to be grateful for this year and various events have drawn me closer to my Lord & Savior over the last month or so.  I still haven't gotten it all right. Never will, I suspect. But sometimes, I have had to take a step back and look at everything.
From a nature walk last month

My trials and tribulations seem so small in comparison to what so many are going through right now - not just around me, but around the world. There are wars, rumors of war, death, deadly disease, crime, you name it - and that is just the big stuff - the news can be very frightening at times (some days, I just don't want to know). We struggle against these things.  The book we are reading for Advent as a family has the angel saying, "Fear not!" on a regular basis. Fear not! Fear not! I have to commit those words to my heart. But God came to us in human form. He sent His Son!  Fear not!

I have watched my 4 year old daughter dance around to our various Christmas cds over the last week or so. One of her favorites is Gloria. Maybe because it is simple. But she is so careful when she dances to it. If our smallest ones can dance so carefully and passionately while thinking of God's gift to us, can you image what it must have sounded like when the very angels sang his praises to the shepherds in the fields? Shouldn't we be so excited?!

Our dancing angel when she was just 2.

Luke 2:14 tells us, "“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Peace on earth.

Peace: Heavenly rest; the happiness of heaven. (definition #6 from Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

I have blogged about it before, but Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells is one of my favorite poems. When I think about the words and what how he takes us through what so many think at times. When we look at the despair around us, it is easy to get sucked in to thinking there is nothing good around us. No peace. The part that strikes me most every time I read it or hear it are the last 2 stanzas.

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.”

But then, we have this one by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He reminds us that we were awaiting the Prince of Peace. The whole reason for Christmas - Christ's arrival in human flesh. And now, we are waiting again for His return. Peace on earth. 

A Christmas Carol 
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The shepherds went their hasty way, 
And found the lowly stable-shed  
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:  
And now they checked their eager tread,  
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung.

They told her how a glorious light,
  Streaming from a heavenly throng.  
Around them shone, suspending night! 
 While sweeter than a mother's song,  
Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth,  
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.

She listened to the tale divine,  
And closer still the Babe she pressed:  
And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
The milk rushed faster to her breast:  
Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn;  
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.

Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
  Poor, simple, and of low estate!  
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
O why should this thy soul elate?  
Sweet Music's loudest note, the Poet's story,
 Didst thou ne'er love to hear of fame and glory?

Then wisely is my soul elate,  
That strife should vanish, battle cease:
I'm poor and of low estate,
The Mother of the Prince of Peace.  
Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:  
Peace, Peace on Earth! The Prince of Peace is born!


JOY! Joy at His arrival!  Pass it on to those around you! Peace on earth! Good-will toward men! Don't keep it to yourself!

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. – Psalm 27:5-7


Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you;
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing
Returns to make you glad.
--John Greenleaf Whittier

Even in the midst of trials and hardships, we need to find the tiniest of joys - and give them to others. God's Word says we are to count it ALL Joy.Joy doesn't have to cost money. Joy can be given freely.  Jesus gave it to us at no cost. Emmanuel. God with us. He came in human form to save us from ourselves. He took the punishment that we deserve and died....but rose from the grave. All for us. Count it ALL joy, my friends. 

When it all seems horrible and dark and despair runs amuck through your mind, remember: Fear NOT! Peace on earth (because of Him!),  Joy!

Merry Christmas!