Joy to the World, the Lord has come!
Amazed crowds gathered and filled first the house Jesus spoke in, then the square around the house and then the whole beach until the authorities took notice and went to investigate what all the fuss was about and caused people to leave their jobs and spend their time listening to a wandering preacher.
Lord, open our ears and touch our hearts too with your stories,
which bring us the joy of good news that your kingdom of love is growing and so close.
But then the authorities deem him a nuisance, for the religious not rigorous enough, for the powerful and rich too challenging by turning things upside down. The crowds scatter and even his friends leave him, Peter denying all knowledge of him. He stands before the Roman seat of justice all alone and is condemned to death on the cross, where even God seems to have cast him off.
Lord, when the darkness of sadness, suffering and death threatens to drag us down
help us to be brave and true, conscious of the joy that we are following our Lord in obedience carrying our cross as he did his.
And while the powers of this world felt they had dealt with a traitor, a ragged upstart and heretic, you Lord gave him new life that we might know the joy of hope, forgiveness and new beginnings even in the darkest of times.
Lord, praise and glory be to you for the joy of your good news that no evil,
no betrayal nor vile power can separate us from your love
and the life you have in store for us.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.