“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did the [slave] trade’s wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for abolition. Let the consequences be what they would:I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.”
Joy To The World has long been my favorite Christmas hymn, in no small part because of its Kingdom message, which praises King Jesus for coming to earth, reigning and turning back the effects of the curse.
Here are some highlights. Verse 1 “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.”
Verse 2: “Joy to the world! The Saviour reigns.”
Verse 3: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found…”
Verse 4: “He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love…”
Good Kingdom stuff. I get goose bumps every time I sing it.
St. Nicholas was born in 270 A.D. in the city of Patara in Lycia (modern day Turkey). His parents died when he was a young man, leaving him a substantial inheritance, which he determined to devote to works of charity.
Not long thereafter, Nicholas learned of a man in Patara who, because of his poverty, could neither support his three daughters nor find husbands for them. As a result, this man was considering giving his daughters over to prostitution.
When Nicholas heard of this, under cover of darkness, he went to the man’s house with a bag of gold, which he threw into an open window. Nicholas then slipped away undetected. Now having a dowry, the oldest daughter was soon married. Thereafter, Nicholas repeated his charitable act for the other two daughters, who also married. Continue reading “The Real Saint Nicholas”
Vladimir Sviatoslavovich was born in 958 A.D. near Pskov, a city in Northwest Russia, about 12 miles east of the Estonian border. As the son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev, a warrior prince of Kieven Rus, Vladimir was the 10th century Rus equivalent of royalty. By the time Vladimir ascended to power he was a committed pagan, boasting multiple wives and eight hundred concubines. Yes, eight hundred, which probably makes him second only to Wilt Chamberlain.
Vladimir erected many pagan statues and shrines and in 983 A.D. , after a military victory, decided to show his gratitude to his pagan deity benefactors by way of a human sacrifice. A young Christian named Loann was chosen, and when Loann’s father Fyodor protested and preached Christianity to Vladimir and his army, the multitude was so incensed they rushed on Fyodor and killed him and Loann. Fyodor and Loann would later come to be considered the first Christian martyrs in Russia.
The whole incident with Fyodor and Loann left a lasting impression on Vladimir, who, whether driven by his guilty conscience, a desire for truth, or responding to the beckoning of the Holy Spirit we do not know, in 987 A.D. sent out representatives to those nations around him to inquire about their religions. They inquired of the Jews, Muslims and Catholics, but Vladimir was not inspired by what he found until his representatives returned from Constantinople and a visit to Hagia Sophia and reported the following:
“We knew not whether we were on heaven or earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.”
In 988 A.D., Vladimir converted to Christianity. He then began removing pagan monuments and building churches throughout his kingdom. Although there were Christians in Rus before Vladimir’s conversion, he is rightly credited with paving the way for the kingdom of God to take root in what would become Russian, and for that, the GOTK blog grants him the appellation of kingdom hero. GS