GM: CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT SINGING A NEW SONG EVEN IN THE MIDST OF WAR
Charles Dickens famous lines, ‘ It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’, from his novel A Tale of Two Cities, came to mind as I began writing on this Christmas Eve morning.
A day of ‘ Grand Market’ in my country; a time when the final shopping for gifts take place, and the children especially ‘have a good time’, hanging out with friends, and the older ones go partying. A day when the Christmas song ‘ It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ takes on new urgency. Hams to be baked, Sorrel to be tasted to make sure it’s right, final touches applied to the house, the right outfit for Christmas Day to be inspected, or bought; all in a frenzy of excitement for ‘ the birth of Christ’. The best of times indeed!
But then in the midst of this, while I am far away from home, came the news yesterday of a tragedy. Right in the heart of the Christmas celebrations! News that gunmen shot and killed one my patients. A gentleman! A quiet man! A thoughtful man! A teacher at a prominent high school, who, according to the tributes on Facebook, touched the lives of many.
As I went bed late last night, and whilst doing my devotions, something triggered the recollection of ‘ all things work for the good of those who love him’. And I found myself asking the Lord, ‘ How does this make sense in the brutal killing of one if your servants’?
And this morning as I write about the best of times, and the worst of times, words from the Psalm appointed for Christmas Day, come into my mind. Perhaps that’s the answer from the Lord. Who knows!
‘O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth….’
And immediately words from another ‘ more famous’ Psalm ‘ spoke to my soul.
‘ By the rivers of Babylon ( words also from a Bob Marley song) –
there we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion…
How could we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land.’. Psalm 137
So how can we sing the Lord’s song, a new song of Hope, of Joy, of Peace, in this ‘ strange land’ of murder most foul in Jamiaca. In a ‘ strange land’ of kidnapping and rape in Syria. In a ‘ strange land’ where to wish someone Merry Christmas may be deemed offensive.
Perhaps the answer from the Lord began as I read a story on Twitter yesterday by Donna Brazile about how President Obama’s faith in Jesus has influenced his actions. And none more important than the speech he made at the funeral of the Pastor, his friend, who along with other members of the congregation, had been gunned down by someone who they welcomed into a Bible Study session. How he changed the script presented to him, and wrote most of it himself. Why?
Because of what he had read how the grieving families, by the grace of God, made a decision to forgive the killer.
Forgiveness in the midst of pain and sorrow. The best of humanity emerging and escaping from the shadow of death and the clutches of evil, urging retaliation! What the writer of the article called the essence of the Christian faith. And so, at a point in time in the speech, I read how POTUS bowed his head, and slowly and haltingly, at first, began to sing, Amazing Grace.
Then last night I had a vivid dream. A dramatic dream. I was preaching. ‘ It’s not about having the ‘ victory in Christ’; its not about certainty that angels encamp around us; but it’s all about Mercy. And therefore we need to Repent. And pray for Mercy.
Perhaps this Mercy is what Lady Saw, now back to Marion Hall, was trying to get across during a riveting interview with @djmiller on #rjrfm94 yesterday. This, as she expressed shame and regret about her ‘ former life’, as a dance hall artiste known for her slackness; that God had not forgotten her even when she was being disobedient to Him #Mercy. #SaultoPaul
So how can we ‘ sing a new song’ in a strange land of wickedness and evil? Because in the midst of evil, at the appointed time God sent His Son. At Christmas! A Mystery surely. But the full and complete expression of the Grace of God, who in Christ, came to die, so that all our sins, including the murder of this gentle soul may be forgiven. For all, every single human being alive or dead, at one time, ‘ had sinned, and fallen short of the Glory of God.
That’s why his Christian wife, and those who loved that High School Teacher, will be able to sing, in faith, ‘Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me’, at the funeral. For it is only by the Grace of God, by His Mercy, why there remains pockets of goodness and love in this world. For if the world was still in the BC, Before Christ, mode, God alone knows what would have become of us. For there would have been no forgiveness for those who harm us. No repentance for sins. Only the awaiting of God’s wrath upon the earth – the worst of times. People who claim that there is no God, really don’t understand history, and don’t have a clue from what we have been Redeemed, from the worst of mankind.
So tomorrow, or tonight, let us thank God for Jesus, for because of Christmas we have the best of times, even as evil in many and various forms, continues to swirl around us. For the end of Psalm 96 promises that:
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the people with his truth. Vs 13.
For the blessed hope that we have in the midst of pain and grief, is that ‘ this same Jesus will come again’, to Judge the world. We pray God then, even as we grieve about the worst of times, and celebrate the best of times, that He may continue to ‘ open doors so that we can declare the mystery of Christ’.
That all people may come to know of His Amazing Grace. For it’s only when we fully comprehend this Grace that we can truly with understanding sing Joy to the World.
Peace. In fact Shalom.