See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O Judah, fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed.
The LORD will restore the vine of Jacob,
the pride of Israel, Though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.
The former British colonies agreeing to disband their confederation and create a new nation had some reservations about the Constitution; they insisted that the lawyers write an additional ten amendments to guarantee certain rights of the states and their citizens. The first guaranteed right in the first amendment is the right to worship:
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....
More than twenty centuries before, the Prophet Nahum announced the good news that Judah should celebrate its feast and fulfill its vows, "Nineveh is destroyed!" There would be no further restraint of their worship.
The New Testament prophet Zechariah, celebrating the birth of his son John the Baptist, also rejoiced that without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
We often hear doctors say of our bodies, and teachers say of our minds: "Use it or lose it." It might be said of our faith also. If we fail to practice our religion we will certainly forfeit it to strangers with an entirely different agenda.
Why are the churches locked up today? Because our children will loot them for spare change, the children who never learned the sacredness of the sanctuary, whose elders never said, "Come, children, listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Why are many Americans prepared to kill someone with a concealed weapon? Because they do not believe the Lord is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!
If we do not live by faith we lose it; if we do not practice our first amendment freedom of religion, we do not deserve to have it.