Today is the second Sunday of Advent. This is the day that we focus on Peace–the peace that God brought to the earth in the form of a little baby who would bring salvation.
Earlier as I was preparing for our family Advent time tonight, I realized I’ve not been very peaceful the last few days. I’ve been stirred up over a heartbreaking issue and letting it rob my joy and my peace. I think that’s something we all do at one time or another. I know it is. But I’ve been particularly guilty of it these past couple of days.
What is peace as it relates to the Christmas story?
In Luke 2, we have the Christmas narrative of Christ’s birth. We learn of the shepherd’s being visited by the angels–can you imagine? Out in the fields. Watching the sheep. In the quiet of the night. When suddenly the “glory of the Lord shone all around them.” We tend to make this a peaceful scene, but at first it certainly was not peaceful to the shepherds! No, it was terrifying! Never had they seen anything like this before! Scripture says they were “filled with great fear”.
But it’s interesting what one of the angels says to the shepherds:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Fear not? Fear not? Of course they were afraid! But these creatures, unseen by the shepherds before, were there to bring them good news……a Savior had been born: Christ the Lord! And they could find this Savior as a baby lying in a manger.
Why the shepherds? Have you ever thought about that? Unassuming, low caste shepherds are the ones who first received the news that the birth of Jesus had occurred–Jesus the Messiah. What does that mean for you and I? It’s a question I look forward to asking my crew tonight.
The angels then broke into praise, saying:
Glory to God in the highest……and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased. Peace.
What does this peace look like?
I believe this definition best fits this peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:
Mutual harmony, especially in personal relationships. Our God is a relational God. We are a sinful people. Through Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, peace can be achieved between man and God. True peace. Real peace.
And peace can be granted between people and groups of people, among those with whom he is pleased. But how do we please God? Another question I look forward to hearing my crew answer tonight.
I don’t know about you, but I crave peace in my life. Quiet. Calmness. In my soul and in my mind. But that peace can only come from God. I desire peace amongst my relationships with my crew and with others. I desire to see peace in this weary world. I want to please God. I want to be one who pleases God.
This morning as I sang “Breath of Heaven”, there is a line of the song that says “Be with me now”. And “Help me be strong. Help me be. Help me.” And that is where I am tonight. God help me be strong. Be with me now. Grant me peace where peace is lacking. How I long for that peace! Breath of Heaven, Hold me together…..how Mary must have yearned for peace! How often have I made this cry to my God: ”Hold me together!” ”Be forever near me!” When I’ve felt my peace shattered into a million pieces?
My friends, I wish for you that peace this season. Sitting in Sunday School this morning and sharing intimately, it’s just so obvious that many are not at peace. They do not know my God as their Savior. Or the circumstances of their lives right now are creating chaos, not peace.
My Jesus, you came to this earth to bring a different kind of peace than what was expected. You did not bring political peace, you brought personal peace. A much more important peace. We pray that you will continue to grant that peace to our troubled minds and souls. That we will know this Christmas season a more profound peace than we have ever known–in ourselves, in our relationship to you, and our relationships with others. Your love is what we need. Your love is what we seek. Amen and Amen.