Peace On Earth Good Will to Who?

My wife and I went for a nice long brisk early November walk today, and at one point we went into a Christmas store. As I was looking around at all the cheerful items for sale, I saw a plate that said “Joy to the World” and another that said “Peace on Earth”. I was immediately hit by a sense of remorse over the fact that we tend to talk about those things only during the Christmas season.

I remember sharing with some people in the past about how wonderful the world would be if we could somehow keep the Spirit of Christmas, and all the goodwill associated with it, alive all year long. Unfortunately, that often does not seem plausible. But, happily, the Christmas season returns to us each year. So, even if we try, but fail, to keep the Spirit of Christmas going all year long, each Christmas season we have another opportunity to promote “Joy to the World” and “Peace on Earth”.

And wouldn’t it be awesome this year if everyone who celebrates or observes Christmas, *or* anyone who wants the world to have joy and be at peace, would somehow use this upcoming Christmas season to really promote those values – regardless of personal faith and/or convictions? This holiday season, let “Peace on Earth” and “Joy to the World” become more than just rote phrases on decorations and cards that put a warm smile in our hearts but which generally fail to motivate us towards actually striving to bring joy and peace to the world.

Words have meaning. Look behind the words to see the true meaning and purpose of those words. They were not originally written or uttered for the purpose of becoming part of the trappings of the Christmas season, but to push us forward, to be goals, to remind us that we can be a better global family.

The words “Joy to the World” do not mean “Joy for just me and those I care about”. They mean joy for the entire human race – and to have joy, people need to be treated fairly, with dignity, and respect, and with the same opportunities and freedoms as everyone else, with all people viewing everyone else as brotherly neighbors, recognizing the worth of all persons.

Likewise, the words “Peace on Earth” do not mean “Peace just for my own” – whatever our own might be. Nor does “Peace on Earth” mean “Peace through victory”. It means peace for all nations, all societies, all types of people, all over the world through letting go of blame, and of our wounds, our pride, and our fears. But peace does not just happen in a vacuum. We need to actively work towards peace. And that means, among other things, that we must be willing to listen – truly, honestly, sincerely listen to one another – and actually hear what is being said, with an understanding that even in diversity, we can have both harmony and unity.

We live in an era that is full of uncertainty and confusion and misdirection. There is accountability on all sides. People from all spectrums have hidden behind Christian values to promote views, positions, and actions that are contrary to the teachings of the One whose birth Christmas celebrates.

So this year, as we enter into the Christmas season, and we see our political and religious leaders, and others, talk about how special a time of year Christmas is, and as they sing “Joy to the World” or “Peace On Earth Good Will to Men”, really make them mean it. Don’t let it just be warm but empty words concealing hypocrisy. Hold them accountable. Point out the hypocrisy. Ask them to explain what they think “Joy to the World” and “Peace on Earth” truly means. What does it look like? Ask them who those words were meant for. Make them acknowledge the things that they are doing that undermines Joy to the World, and Peace on Earth. And then ask them, on their Christian faith, what they are going to do, to truly live, and personify those words.

And as they passionately enjoy and celebrate Christmas, ask them whose birth Christmas celebrates, and what did He have to say about the various issues that seem to be dividing us.  Because, if we are not really following Him, just why are we celebrating His birth?

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Exploring Unity in Diversity & the Worth of All Persons

“All persons are of great worth in the sight of God.
There can be no exceptions anywhere, at anytime”
“We therefore affirm without exception the worth of every human being.”

This is not a blog but a collection of resources that are associated with two of Community of Christ’s Enduring Principles, Unity in Diversity, and the Worth of All Persons.  God delights in the diversity of creation, and all people are of value and of worth!

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Overview

Community of Christ has nine Enduring Principles.  They serve the following role  in the life of the church:

“Our Enduring Principles define the essence, heart, and soul of our faith community. They describe the personality of our church as expressed throughout the world.”

One of our Enduring Principles is the Worth of All Persons:

●God views all people as having inestimable and equal worth.
●God wants all people to experience wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationships.
●We seek to uphold and restore the worth of all people individually and in community, challenging unjust systems that diminish human worth.
●We join with Jesus Christ in bringing good news to the poor, sick, captive, and oppressed.

Another Enduring Principle of the church, which supports the Worth of All Persons, is Unity in Diversity:

●Community of Christ is a diverse, international family of disciples, seekers, and congregations.
●Local and worldwide ministries are interdependent and important to the church’s mission.
●The church embraces diversity and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit.
●We seek agreement or common consent in important matters. If we cannot achieve agreement, we commit to ongoing dialogue and lovingly uphold our common faith in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church.
●We confess that our lack of agreement on certain matters is hurtful to some of God’s beloved children and creation.

Source

Articles / Commentaries / Resources

Unity in Diversity commentary – This item is no longer posted on the church’s website, but I’ve uploaded it to my archive site here.
Worth of All Persons commentary – This item is no longer posted on the church’s website, but I’ve uploaded it to my archive site here.
Worth of All Persons – Ideas for Adults
Humanity and the Worth of All Persons – This link opens a PDF.  Jump to page 23.

A Defining Moment: President Veazey’s 2009 address to the church (excerpt)

“The church affirms that scripture is inspired and essential to our knowledge of God and the gospel. In addition, we believe that scripture should be interpreted responsibly through informed study, guided by the Spirit working in the church. Scripture was formed by the community to shape the community. Therefore, interpreting scripture is the constant work of the community. In other words, understanding and applying scripture is not just a matter of reading a passage and deciding on our own what it means.

Community of Christ also stresses that all scripture must be interpreted through the lens of God’s most-decisive revelation in Jesus Christ. So if portions of scripture don’t agree with our fullest understanding of the meaning of the revelation of God in Christ, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit and discerned by the faith community, the teachings and vision of Christ take precedence. This principle applies to all of our books of scripture, especially any passage used by some to assign God’s disfavor, negative characteristics, or secondary roles to others.”

Related Scriptures & Revelations

Book of Enos Chapter 1

7 And there came a voice unto me saying, Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
8 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
9 And I said, Lord, how is it done?

10 And he said unto me, because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. (LDS: Enos 1:5-8)

Doctrine & Covenants Section 16 (LDS 18:10,11)

3c. Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; for, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.

Section 151

9. You who are my disciples must be found continuing in the forefront of those organizations and movements which are recognizing the worth of persons and are committed to bringing the ministry of my Son to bear on their lives.

Section 162

6a. From the earliest days you have been given a sacred principle that declares the inestimable worth of all persons. Do not forget.

Section 163

7b. Scripture is not to be worshiped or idolized. Only God, the Eternal One of whom scripture testifies, is worthy of worship. God’s nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ and affirmed by the Holy Spirit, provides the ultimate standard by which any portion of scripture should be interpreted and applied.

7c. It is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.

163:10b. Do not turn away in pride, fear, or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace.

Section 164

5. It is imperative to understand that when you are truly baptized into Christ you become part of a new creation. By taking on the life and mind of Christ, you increasingly view yourselves and others from a changed perspective. Former ways of defining people by economic status, social class, sex, gender, or ethnicity no longer are primary. Through the gospel of Christ a new community of tolerance, reconciliation, unity in diversity, and love is being born as a visible sign of the coming reign of God.

6a. As revealed in Christ, God, the Creator of all, ultimately is concerned about behaviors and relationships that uphold the worth and giftedness of all people and that protect the most vulnerable. Such relationships are to be rooted in the principles of Christ-like love, mutual respect, responsibility, justice, covenant, and faithfulness, against which there is no law.

6b. If the church more fully will understand and consistently apply these principles, questions arising about responsible human sexuality, gender identities, roles, and relationships; marriage; and other issues may be resolved according to God’s divine purposes. Be assured, nothing within these principles condones selfish, irresponsible, promiscuous, degrading, or abusive relationships.

6c. Faced with difficult questions, many properly turn to scripture to find insight and inspiration. Search the scriptures for the Living Word that brings life, healing, and hope to all. Embrace and proclaim these liberating truths.

9c. This covenant entails sacramental living that respects and reveals God’s presence and reconciling activity in creation. It requires whole-life stewardship dedicated to expanding the church’s restoring ministries, especially those devoted to asserting the worth of persons, protecting the sacredness of creation, and relieving physical and spiritual suffering.

Section 165

3c. You do not fully understand many interrelated processes of human creation. Through its wonderful complexity, creation produces both diversity and order.

3d. Be not consumed with concern about variety in human types and characteristics as you see them. Be passionately concerned about forming inclusive communities of love, oneness, and equality that reveal divine nature.

3e Oneness and equality in Christ do not mean uniformity. They mean Unity in Diversity and relating in Christ-like love to the circumstances of others as if they were one’s own. They also mean full opportunity for people to experience human worth and related rights, including expressing God-given giftedness in the church and society.

4a. Regarding priesthood, God calls whomever God calls from among committed disciples, according to their gifts, to serve and reach all humankind.

4b. Priesthood policies developed through wisdom and inspiration provide a clear way for disciples to respond to calling. They also define the difference between a sense of call as potential and the need to align one’s life with principles of moral behavior and relationships that promote the well-being of the church community.

Courage & Hope (this revelation was included as the closing of President Veazey’s 2009 address to the church A Defining Moment)

“Fear not! Do not be afraid to become who God is calling you to become. God, the Eternal One, has been with you in your past, continues with you in the present, and already is waiting patiently for you in the future.” (excerpt from par. 1) 

Hymns

For Everyone Born

The Daily Bread

The Daily Bread is a collection of short devotionals.  Using this link, you can pick a category on the right hand side to read items that may be of interest to you.

Blog Sites

Check out these blog sites which may have some items of interest.

Saints Herald
Spiriutal Formation – Worth of Persons is a category you can select

Podcasts & Videos

Change your Life, Change your World – video intro. to Community of Christ
Project Zion – various podcasts on a variety of topics

World Conference Resolutions

WCR 1226 – Affirmation of Human Diversity (adopted April 10th, 1992)

“The gospel of Jesus Christ reveals the unqualified love of God and the inestimable worth of all persons. An awareness of God’s love and the love of others is essential to human fulfillment. For these reasons, we celebrate the rich diversity of human life.

However, human beings often fear, hate, and abuse each other because of ignorance about such factors as socioeconomic status, culture, race, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability. Such prejudicial behavior undermines the personal and spiritual development of both abuse and abused, and denies the mutual benefits of shared giftedness.

As persons of faith, we confess our own imperfections in attitude and action. Nevertheless, we accept the responsibility to resist fear and hate in all forms and to strive continuously to eliminate expressions of prejudice and discrimination.

We declare our belief that “all are called according to the gifts of God to them.” We therefore acknowledge and affirm human diversity by creating a spirit of openness and peace within our congregations where all persons may find acceptance and the opportunity to share their giftedness.

We commit ourselves to work with all persons of goodwill to promote mutual respect, appreciation, and peace in all relationships.”

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For more information about Community of Christ, please visit the main website here.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may wish to check out this site.