“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”
Thus starts one of my favorite Christmas carols, partly because if you sing alto like me, it’s got a great harmony line.
But I also love the theology in the carol, which resonates with the joy that comes from reconciliation. “Let every heart prepare him room/And heaven and nature sing,” say the familiar verses, leaving me with the vision of everyone on Earth united, everything on bended knee before our God.
There are so many places in the world where joy is hard to find, because war and disaster have broken relationships apart. It may be relationships between human beings, it may be relationships between human beings and the creation around them.
And of course, broken relationships between God and His people are the root of lost joy. So this Christmas, if you have relationships that need reconciling, remember to pray through this scripture:
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14, ESV)
Making amends with people is difficult – but it can be done. In Mozambique, horrible conflicts are being healed and restored.
Conflict in Mozambique
Mozambique suffered a brutal 16-year civil war that tore the country apart. A peace treaty in the early 1990s ended the conflict. But even now, politically motivated violence continues to erupt sporadically in some of the areas where Food for the Hungry (FH) works. Land mines continue to render many farm fields too dangerous for planting.
Wars have sent families running off their land, fleeing fighting. Marauding soldiers destroyed or consumed crops. Women are now raising children conceived during rape. Parents have abandoned their kids when they can’t feed them anymore. Little ones stunted by malnutrition strap on rifles that overwhelm their frail bodies, because being a soldier is their only option for survival. There is little to celebrate in days of war.
How can joy exist in a place like this?
The Joy of Reconciliation
The joy that comes from reconciliation with God, with other human beings and with creation that we see in “Joy to the World,” is happening in Mozambique.
Reconciliation with other people happens when adults form FH savings groups, where they pool their money together and learn to earn income. Through improving their finances, their kids start attending school or getting treatment for illnesses. Reconciliation with creation happens when a farmer finally de-mines a field and grows food to feed her family. Reconciliation with God happens when children in an FH program hear about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through hearing about Christ’s love, children are reconciled to God, leading them to better choices like avoiding risky sexual behaviors that can lead to AIDS.
In FH’s 12 Days of Christmas, we share a story about a family in Mozambique who has joy. Find out why they are rejoicing by reading the story with your children, or any child in your life. And may this season bring you the deep joy of reconciliation with those in your life.