Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Echoing their brave delight

Angels we have heard on high/singing sweetly through the night,/and the mountains in reply/echoing their brave delight.

This verse of the classic Christmas carol “Angels we have heard on high” struck me in a new way as I sang it along with fellow church members on Christmas Eve. As I sung the last line, I thought of some of persecuted believers I’ve seen or heard about this year and realized that was exactly the phrase I’d use to describe what I saw in them. Suddenly this literal image of song breaking back and forth across the mountains became something else entirely: a reminder of what can be learned from the joyfulness demonstrated by so many suffering believers.

Right now the phrase brings to mind the many imprisoned Christians that proclaim their steadfast trust in God’s grace and goodness even as they languish in chains. I also see the smiling face of Richard Wurmbrand as he recounts the incredible tortures and trials he faced while detained for his faith ("You wonder why I smile" is a powerful film about Wurmbrand's testimony included in a DVD currently available through VOMC). And I think also of a group of Christians mentioned in the feature article of our upcoming newsletter, who shouted praises of “Hallelujah!” even as militants viciously attacked their church in Orissa, India. What bold joy indeed!

Scripture is filled with our Lord delighting in the love and obedience of His children (one needs only to look in a Bible concordance to see how the very word “delight” permeates His word). To take such special pleasure in faithfulness is yet another way for us to walk in His example. So let all of us, as followers of Christ, live with the same sense of gladness we see at work in members of the Suffering Church. Let us echo their brave delight.

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