Earth Has No Sorrow that Heaven Cannot Heal

 photo 31 January 2_zps0gawcsqq.jpg
I started handlettering this line from “Come, Ye Disconsolate,” when I first got word in the summer that my great uncle was dying. We had known it might be coming, but thought it would be from his longer-term health struggles and not from the cancer that had crept in in the midst of it. Only weeks later it became clear that my cousin also would soon be going home. Amid tears and prayers for healing and comfort, I began sketching, but it was never right.

As we settled into our new home, I took it up again, four months after Uncle John went home and two and a half after Kristen, a year after Ezra’s aunt and my cousin Hannah’s best friend also passed away. In between quiet moments with pencil and pen, there were quiet moments with a book in hand – Mindy Belz’s “They Say We are Infidels,” about Christians on the run from ISIS, the pre-ISIS persecution of Christians in Iraq, and ISIS’s rise to power.

I inked the words, “earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” with a heavy heart, full of sorrow – sorrow for my great aunt, having lost her husband and other family members this year, for my aunt and uncle grieving their daughter, Ezra’s grandfather grieving his, and my cousin, always aware of her best friend’s presence no longer there. But as I read about Christians fleeing ISIS, giving their lives, leaving everything… and the world doing nothing, even more tears and sorrow came.

Often I worked with them side by side and had to ask God, “Really?” even as I worked on memorizing “Be Still My Soul,” and the lines “thy Jesus can repay/from His own fullness all He takes away” played over and over in my head.

I scanned and edited the words, and finished the final pages of the book, but the book had no ending. How can it, when ISIS still scours the Levant while the world continues to barely lift a finger? Belz wove in words of hope here and there, but the lingering feeling of despair won out, the same question I wrestled with so much in the darkness of postpartum depression – “how can this sorrow ever be healed?”

I don’t know what God is going to do in Iraq and Syria, what He’s going to do with ISIS or how there will ever be healing in that land, or how we will get used to life without Kristen, Uncle John, Maddi, and Aunt Sue. But I went back to the rest of the hymn, remembering the faith of the Christians Belz interviewed, the same faith shared by those seeking a better Kingdom in Hebrews 11, and found there a reminder of hope.

Hope not in these wounds being healed on earth where our bodies are made only to be worn out and used up, but in heaven – where the Comforter, the Joy of the desolate, Light of the straying, Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure is, where we come to the feast of love – healed.

Earth has no sorrow heaven cannot heal, not because those sorrows will all be healed and made right on earth, but because a Baby was born in Bethlehem who lived through sorrow like unto that of our time and died so that all will one day be Right again.

“…All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own… they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
“…by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight… tortured, not accepting their release that they might obtain a better resurrection… stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword… destitute, afflicted, ill-treated of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”
(Excerpts from Hebrews 11 & 12)
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Advent: God With Us – Christ in Us

Romans 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law,weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,3 he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…

31-39.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.10 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” – John 17:3

In His birth, Jesus shows us that we couldn’t be near Him on our own. He must come to us to save us before we can have eternal life – before we can know God. And so Jesus came down and joined our problem, but He didn’t leave it alone. He pronounced blessing and future joy for those who are mourning, but it didn’t come in the way the world expected. He showed us that the answer to our pain isn’t a formula, the solution to our problems not their absence, but His presence. It’s not what we asked for, but it’s what we need more than anything else.

He offered His love in a way that can never be lost because it is based on Jesus and not our performance. He came to free us from chains of sin that weighs us down. He came to fill our need, and to bring us to God, even when we were His enemies. He gave us so that we will have everything we will ever need.

He was Immanuel for a short time
So that Immanuel, God with us, can be for forever.

Don’t reject His love, or Immanuel will be to you a judge, not a Savior.
He came to free.
Don’t love your chains.
Worship the One who can set you free.
Who fills our every need
Who is all we need
Who is worth every pain
Who makes it not about us but about His glory
Which is far, far greater.
He has met our need.
Because Christ was condemned and separated.
Because He left His Father and humbled Himself.
Then, not just at Christmas, but always:
Immanuel.

Hymn: Joy to the World
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 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.

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.

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.

Advent Blessing

Revelation 21:1-4
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Pray
– Give thanks for Immanuel: the person of Jesus, the work of Jesus on the cross, and the joy of being brought to Him!
– pray for those still separated from Him – remember that we were once the people walking in darkness, but He allowed us to see the Great Light. Pray that those (and be specific!) yet walking in darkness will see His Light. Remember that He can do far more than we can ask or imagine!

Advent: God With Us – My Redeemer Liveth

Matthew 28:1-9
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

1 Corinthians 15:17-24
..If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.


Song: I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day
upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall
I see God. (Job 19:25-26)
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that
sleep. (I Corinthians 15:20)

Pray
Tomorrow is Thursday and Christmas Eve. I find it a very fitting day to fast, as we wait for Christmas celebrations, to remind us of what really matters, of what we should really be longing for. Take time to reflect on and pray about the things God has taught you this Advent season, and pray that He might draw many of His enemies to Himself, even this day!

Advent: God With Us – To Bring Us To God

In the incarnation, Jesus entered our suffering. He stepped into the sin-cursed world. In His perfection, He was more aware of things “not being right” than we are. He understood the fullness of the brokenness of our condition. He was born, like all of us, in pain and tears. But it didn’t stop at His birth – the innocent were slaughtered as Herod sought to destroy Jesus. He was tempted, like us. He suffered, like us. Injustice, pain, spiritual torment. Isaiah 53 says, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”

But while He was God with us, there was a time when He was forsaken by God. Condemned and separated, He suffered the darkest night the soul has experienced. He was accounted as sinful and judged by His Father, cut off from the most intimate relationship anyone has ever known.
“The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief… As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:10-11).

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)

Matthew 27:35-54
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it withsour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him,keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Hymn: O Sacred Head Now Wounded (instrumental version here)
O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Pray
Take time to meditate on “what Thou, my Lord, hast suffered.”
Let that shape thanksgiving, as well as prayers for the persecuted church: “And should I fainting be/Lord let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.”

Advent: God With Us – Jesus, Our Immanuel

Luke 2:1-20
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths andlaid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Hymn: Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Refrain

Hymn: What Child is This?
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Current Events
After the terror in Paris last month, my Facebook feed was filled with opinions on whether or not refugees should be allowed into America. As a conservative Christian I feel that it is extra-complicated, and I know that I have to be careful not to let my childhood among refugees make me decide based on nostalgia.
It is a very complex issue that dives into the roles of the church to love and serve and the role of the state to protect. While I can vote and petition, the state’s response is ultimately out of my hands, but I believe that Christians must do something.
The hospitality commands I referenced in the last post, teaching in the Old Testament about the foreigner, and the value of human life lead me to lean towards welcoming refugees. And knowing so many who are fleeing ISIS are Christians (although very few of those who make it very far are Christian), I believe 1 John 3:13-18 applies as well.
Should we be cautious? Yes (vetting refugees strictly and requiring them to follow our laws are both necessary things). Is resettling refugees the answer? No, it is dealing with a symptom of a greater problem. We should not receive refugees and do nothing about ISIS/making a way for the refugees to return home.
If the government decides to allow refugees into the United States, Christians should step up to welcome them, care for them, and share the gospel with them. And if we perish, we perish (good article here).
If the government decides to close our borders (or even if they don’t!), we can support people who are working with the refugees. Examine yourself to make sure you’re not living in fear. Pray fervently, without ceasing, for God to destroy (or save!) ISIS. Educate yourself and others about what ISIS is doing to Christians, Yazidis, other Muslims, women, children, HUMAN BEINGS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. Feminists, you should care about this because of how they are degrading women to the worst extent. Pro-Lifers, you should care about this because they are souls just like the babies in the womb.
We should not just think about how this affects who we vote for, but how “I” personally can be involved.

Some links:
***7 Thought on the Gospel and Refugees*** (If you only read one, read this one!)
Syrian refugees speak in Istanbul
We Welcome Refugees FAQ
Immigration Policy Must be Based on More Than an Appeal to Compassion (food for thought, though I don’t necessarily agree with everything)
Refugees and the Two-Fold Kingdom
The World is Scary – Love Anyway
You’re not a Bad Christian Because You Want to be Cautious

I have mentioned places to donate here, but some more have come to my attention in this time:
Carry the Future (have a baby carrier sitting around you don’t use? The day before I found this I was thinking about natural disasters/evacuation and how I would want to have my Ergo with me, and how hard it must be for refugees without carriers. I was thrilled when someone on Facebook linked to this group!)
Never Again is Now (connected with Glenn Beck, but they are focusing on resettling Christian Refugees)
21st Century Wilberforce (they have a much wider focus, but they have written some about ISIS, specifically about why they are committing genocide, even if the UN refuses to acknowledge it).

Pray
– that the refugees would find safety
– for a soul that does not fear, but trusts in God for ultimate protection
– that both short-term and long-term solutions would be found to help
(Tomorrow is Thursday, so please join me in fasting as you pray!)

Advent: God With Us – The Dear Christ Enters In

Matthew 1:20-23
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Hymn: O Little Town of Bethlehem (congregational)
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Current Events
This is not so much related to our specific place in time as it is to being the church. I have written about ways to give financially to more global issues, but changing the world also happens right where you are, in serving your community. This could be helping the homeless. Volunteering at pregnancy resource centers. Inviting neighbors over for a meal. Supporting a single mother. Opening your life and your home to be a tool for healing the needs around you, whether the needy are believers or unbelievers. Hospitality is a command in the Bible (Romans 12:9-13, 1 Peter 4:9, Hebrews 13:2). Are you practicing it?
In all of this, remember what our greatest need: not our problems being taken away, but for God to be with us. Let meeting the physical needs around us be an opportunity to share the eternal hope we have in Christ!
a sermon on hospitality
Also, know that you don’t have to have a home to be hospitable or serve others in this way. Help others feel welcomed and loved wherever you or they are.

Pray
– For the needs of your local community
– For wisdom to know how you can be involved in helping meet those needs – and then act on it!

Advent: God With Us – Of The Father’s Love Begotten

Isaiah 9:2-7
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
3 You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
4 For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Hymn: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Come to earth to taste our sadness
He whose glories knew no end
By his life he brings us gladness
Our Redeemer Shepherd Friend

Leaving riches without number
Born within a cattle stall
This the everlasting wonder
Christ was born Lord of all

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

John 1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Hymn: Of the Father’s Love Begotten
Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Current Events
Christ, the Alpha and Omega, was found in human fashion that we might not be doomed to endless woe. This because of His love, love we are told to emulate in Ephesians 5:1 – “walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for you.”
From this passage, walking in love = giving yourself up for others, whether that means turning off your phone to play with your kids, putting aside your to-do list to serve at the homeless shelter, delaying your TV purchase to donate to to those in need (all the time, but especially at Christmas when we are celebrating Christ’s gift to us), or being willing to physically die if that’s what welcoming refugees means.
This is especially true of how we should be helping Christians in need, around the world (1 John 3:13-18).

Some places to consider being involved with:
Preemptive Love Coalition
Barnabas Fund
Compassion International
Hope Builders International
Angel Tree
HeartCry Missionary Society
Samaritan’s Purse
Voice of the Martyrs
International Christian Response

Pray
Pray about how you can be serving others this Christmas season, and then take action!
Also, please join me in fasting and praying again on Thursday, specifically concerning ISIS, Boko Haram, abortion, and other things in this world that destroy lives.