The Christmas season can contain such contrasting atmospheres. Picture with me the super-store on a Saturday in December: hustle and bustle, Christmas music playing cheerfully, lights and brightly colored decorations and SALE! signs flashing all around, people rushing to fill carts and bags, maneuvering through throngs of shoppers and between displays of sweaters, toys and baked goods. Now, picture with me another setting. A Christmas Eve service at your local church: rows of people standing near one another, singing Carols softly while candles flicker and a Nativity scene gently glows from the front of the room. Many of us have experienced these two starkly different atmospheres – sometimes within a few hours of one another!
As believers, there is a vein that runs through both of those settings: Peace. In the business of getting ready to celebrate Christmas, as well as during the quiet times reflecting on the reason for our celebrations, we are people filled with Peace. We celebrate in the busy and fun ways, as well as the quiet and joyful ways with hearts focused on the Peace we have because of Christmas. The Peace that Jesus Christ brought into the world and into our hearts when we put our faith in him runs through every part of our celebration of his birth.
Let us take a few minutes to focus on that gift of Peace, taking it with us for the rest of this season.
Hundreds of years before that stable scene in Bethlehem, God promised through his prophet in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Peace on Earth
When the Prince of Peace arrived, he ministered to the people he came into contact with, offering Peace to those who trusted in him. Jesus then told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would be the peace on this earth after Jesus returned to his heavenly throne. John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…”
Soon after, Jesus was crucified; taking on the sin of the world, becoming our Peace by breaking down the barrier of sin that separated us from God. Paul explains this in Romans 5:1, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
After Jesus rose again, he came to his disciples and said to them in John 20:19, “Peace be with you…” and in 20:21, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you…” Twice he offered Peace to his beloved followers: Peace he also offers us as our risen Lord.
We are promised over and over again in scripture that when Jesus returns, it will be to restore the Peace of creation. Isaiah describes it so beautifully in 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
As you move through the hustle and bustle of this Christmas season, and as you take time to quietly reflect on our reason for it; focus your heart on our Peace: promised from of old, made human on this earth, crucified, risen, and coming again.