Although it’s sensitive business to talk religious issues, I am feeling the need this time of year.
I wish we were able to make it to church more often with our children. The desire and intent is there, but, unfortunately, youth sports on Sundays often keeps us from attending church. It’s a shame we are in a position to have to pick one or the other, but we are able to talk to our kids about God and spirituality, and we can’t simulate travel soccer games.
Over the last few weeks, we have gotten back into going to church. Last weekend the Sunday school at Stevenson United Methodist Church put on a Christmas program. Beckett was one of the readers in the program, while Carson and his cousin Cameron, among others, had supporting roles.
I am always proud to see my kids taking part in anything, but especially a church program. I think it’s important for them to understand basic Christian principles and to believe in God and Jesus. I respect the fact many families choose not to raise their kids in church, but admire those who do make it a focal point.
I recall as a kid not wanting to go to church. There were other things – mostly sleeping – I wanted to do on Sunday mornings. When we tell our children, we are going to church on Sunday, they do not jump for joy. There are other activities they would prefer to be doing. Nonetheless, we insist and the kids end up enjoying themselves. Our hope is that each of our boys leave church learning something new on a spiritual level. I think for the most part they do.
During last week’s Christmas program, Beckett had a lengthy reading. Due to a friend becoming sick at the last minute, he read two parts.
With Christmas near, I thought I would share his reading, “Looking for Peace on Earth.”
(ITALICS)“When we think of the Bible and the word ‘peace’ we are likely to picture the scene of shepherds guarding their sheep by night. Suddenly, an angel appears with good news about a baby in a manger, then a multitude of angels join in singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill to men.’ We hear about it every Christmas: peace on earth. We sing about it. We pray for it. Peace on Earth: an end to wars, an end to bitterness and hostility, an end to fear. We even talk about how nice it would be to have Christmas all year long, so we could always focus on Peace and Goodwill to Men (and Women – all of Mankind, in fact).
But the wars go on. Bitter struggles that have lasted for centuries continue. We find new ways to kill, new things to be afraid of. The Christmas ideal of Peace on Earth seems to be nothing more than an oasis in the midst of a violent world – or maybe it’s just a mirage.
When we think about peace, it’s important to remember that Satan and God have been at war since the beginning of time. As Christians we have switched sides in the Great War and joined God’s forces. We are no longer at war with God. He has offered us peace. Unfortunately, peace with God means we are now at war with Satan and all his forces. So our peace is not complete, yet. It won’t be complete until Satan is defeated and removed from the earth or we go home to be in heaven.
Perhaps the angels meant that because of Jesus’ birth we can find peace with God and eventually complete peace will reign when Satan is defeated. But I think there’s something more to the peace God offers than just an end of war and conflict. It involves more than just the lack of commotion and difficulties. It promises something else than the absence of fear. Jesus didn’t come to earth to take our problems away. He came to stand with us in the midst of our problems so we would find that he, himself, is our peace.
The word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’ or ‘good tidings.’ The angel that came to the shepherds said, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.’ (Luke 2:10) He came to announce the gospel, the good news that Jesus had come into the world. The good news doesn’t end with the Christmas story. Jesus taught us how to know God and how to serve him, he showed us how to love each other, and then he gave his own life as a sacrifice for our sins so we could live with him someday in heaven. But the good news doesn’t end with Easter, either. Jesus is living in heaven right now, watching over us. The Holy Spirit lives within us to help us know God better and to experience his love. God has a plan for your life, and he has a plan for the whole world. In the end, everything will work out according to his plan, and he – and we – will be victorious. That’s good news!
So this Christmas when you think about Peace on Earth, thank God for sending his Son to be our Peace – now and forever.”
While the message hit home on a spiritual level because I spend too much time worrying about things in life I have no control over, hearing my son read and understand it hit me emotionally. Maybe the message will resonate with you on some level as well.
Merry Christmas to all, may it be an enjoyable and memorable week for everyone.