When Hope’s Light Overpowered Fear’s Darkness

Sitting in Herrick Chapel at #JudsonUniversity last Saturday evening was a lesson in hope. Yes, it was a Christmas Concert. The Judson University Choir and Orchestra were outstanding, as usual. But there was an extra punch in that evening. The punch was the words of Christmas songs. Some were old and familiar. Others had new, fresh messages. All told of a Savior, the one who brought light into darkness. Hope filled the room.

Of course it had been only a few days since the tragedy in San Bernardino. 14 people, at a Christmas party, were gunned down like fish in an aquarium. 21 people were injured. Many families’ lives were sadly altered. It’s easy to wonder what’s happened to our world. Have public gatherings, even Christmas parties, become places of fear, rather than fun get-togethers with friends and family? Will we ever feel safe again? The closing song by the Choir and orchestra, “All is Well” filled the room with serenity and an invitation to rest in God’s care. Mary and I looked at each other with one of those knowing glances, where hearts connect – yes, all is well.

As we drove home that night, Mary and I talked about how we felt renewed confidence in God’s overriding sovereignty. How? It didn’t matter. Would we always be safe? Maybe. Maybe not. But would God always be with us? Oh, yes! I’m sure others felt that same holy hush Mary and I felt that evening as we listened and, yes, worshiped.

I noticed that same aura as the congregation gathered the next morning for worship. We sang songs we had sung numerous times. They were so well known. But when they were sung with the backdrop of uncertainty and fear, they brought certainty, hope and peace. It was an inspiring reminder of why we worship.

Eugene Peterson tweeted on September 22, 2015 (@PetersonDaily), “Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.” And yes, sometimes we need to interrupt our preoccupation with the fears that dominate us and attend to the presence of God, and God’s sovereignty over our troubled world.

I believe we cannot truly live well without worship.  Richard Foster, Tweeted on November 11, 2015 (@FosterEveryday), “Worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience.” In these unsettling times, that holy obedience must be to trust God that all is well, and to rest in him.

Paul David Tripp, wrote in his helpful devotional, New Morning Mercies (November 21), “Corporate worship is designed to keep you humble by reminding you of your need and thankful by reminding you of God’s gift.” Perhaps our need now is to find refuge in God. God’s greatest gift is that he came to us in Christ as Immanuel, which means simply and profoundly, “God is with us.” In a trusting relationship, resting in God, there is no place we can be where God is not with us.  

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Christ-follower, husband of Mary for 52 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, writer, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor, retired.

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