Joy For The World

 In Pastor's Blog
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—shout for joy before the Lord, the King.”
-Psalm 98:4-6

The halls are decked with holly and lights around Kennewick First Presbyterian Church.  Our homes are looking festive and we are busy shopping for our families, planning parties, and baking cookies.  In the midst of making time for family and buying gifts for those who are near and dear to us, I am overwhelmed with the fact that the birth of Jesus brings Joy for the WORLD.

Christmas IS the most wonderful time of the year and not just because we get to hear our favorite Christmas carols in the stores and on the radio.  It is the most wonderful time because of God’s incredible love. God’s love which desired to not be distant, but with us. When the angel told Joseph in a dream that he should NOT divorce Mary quietly, because the child she was to bear was from God; he proclaimed that this child is Immanuel – God WITH us.

Our challenge this Christmas is to balance the desire to spend time and money on our families and remember that Jesus, Immanuel, is God with the WHOLE WORLD.  It’s easy to focus on the gifts we give to one another and become distracted from the fact that God has a desire for us to reach beyond ourselves and care for all those whom Jesus came to save.  John 3:16 starts out, “For God so loved the WORLD…” – not just the people of Israel.

I recently led a team with Embracing Orphans to the island nation of Jamaica to build a home for a family in need.  Our team volunteered at a couple of orphanages and shared 10 days serving and praying for the people of Jamaica. It was a powerful reminder how easy it is to become distracted by our own pressures and priorities and miss opportunities to make a difference in the lives of other people.  Whether it be a neighbor across the street, across the state, or across the globe, God’s desire is to soften our hearts to the needs of others. Because God’s heart is broken for the needs of all people, God gives us opportunities to be the heart and hands of Jesus Christ in meeting those needs.

This Christmas season, I invite you to join us in worship at Kennewick First Pres as we worship the God who brings Joy to the World, For ALL the world.

Eternal God, you loved the whole world that you sent your only begotten Son to save us.  Thank you for this gift of love. Help us to extend your love and grace to the people around us and people across the world.  Give us opportunity to reach those who are hungry, hurting and lost. In Christ we pray, Amen.

In Christ,

Rev. Hanna Peterson Shearer

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