A Season of Peace: Saturday, September 29, 2018


The church and its witness: cultivating joy


By Rev. Teresita Regidor Oton

Psalm 100:1–5

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.


Reflection: In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I have met secretaries, bookkeepers, receptionists, caregivers, and salespersons, all Filipino, all in situations of forced labor, all overworked and tired. Yet, I am struck every time by the defiant joy and faith that sustain these brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a faith that I believe we can learn from, and which should inspire our action in solidarity with these workers.

Gratefulness is good medicine. Have you noticed that in the first three commands of Psalm 100, God says: shout with joy, serve with gladness, and come with joyful songs? God speaks to a people who know great suffering and encourages them to foster sources of joy unbound by circumstance, namely, the Lord.

Gratefulness improves our witness for Christ. Our joy demands attention. It draws people to faith. And it highlights the contrast and injustice of our circumstances.

Gratefulness opens our relationship with God. The faith of Filipino migrant workers is what sustains them. How terrible are their experiences away from families and loved ones. Some of them become hopeless and desperate. But in spite of it all, they challenge the world by declaring, God is good! In making this proclamation, they come to know God in ways deeper than many of us ever do. They come to know the God who sits with them in the dark, who refuses to abandon them to slavery.

Action: Did you know there is a difference between happiness and joy? Happiness is based on your circumstances and what is happening around you, but the Bible tells us that joy comes from the Lord! We can be joyful even in the hard times when God fills us with love and peace. What are some ways you can express joy today?

PrayerLord, we pray that your love prevails. Give us the ability to forgive and to reach out with kindness and love to all. Through mourning and hard times, we pray you turn us toward light and life. Amen.

Rev. Teresita Regidor Oton is a mission co-worker with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines assigned in the United Arab Emirates, serving Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She served nine months with the Filipino Overseas Workers and is a former chaplain of Brokenshire College in the Philippines. She is a

graduate of Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in South Korea and of Silliman University Divinity School.


This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:

  1. Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
  2. Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
  3. Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
  4. The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
  5. Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divides

Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.

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