It’s now Christmas Day in my neck of the woods, so let me wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas to you my Dear Readers. In fact, it’s after Midnight…like that Midnight long ago…
Mary just delivered Jesus into the world. The only witnesses were Joseph and some animals in a filthy manger in Bethlehem. It was night as a city slept and a baby cried as his tiny lungs took in their first of many breaths. Although it was not cold as here in New Jersey, I could imagine the evening chill in that manger. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus…alone in the night…
Nearby, shepherds doing their nightly watch over their flocks. Up at night to watch out for potential thieves taking advantage of the darkness or nocturnal predators that roam the countryside. It was these shepherds that God’s angelic host visited and announced the arrival of His/Her Christ into the world. It was this host who sang in a Divine chorus of tonight’s Scripture above: a chorus praising God’s glory, peace on Earth, and God’s goodwill to humanity.
Contrary to what some may say, God’s gift of Christ was His/Her way of bringing peace to Earth. In fact, Isaiah speaks of the “Prince of Peace” (ref. Isaiah 9:6). And God knows we need peace. Places like Syria are looking for peace from the strife of war. First Nation people are looking for the peace from corporate and political assaults on their land and people. Communities of Color are looking for peace from racism-whether under a hood, behind a badge, or behind a website. Children look for peace from bullying, uncaring politicized educational systems,and predatory adults. Families look for peace from the assault of popular, yet not benevolent culture onto their homes. Churches look for peace to worship God and fellowship in safety and peace.
We also need individual peace. The caretaker with responsibilities on his/her plate need peace from the strife of illness. The single person needing peace from the howling taunts of loneliness and the pangs of desperation. The homeless person needing peace from harassment from cops and others. The struggling parent trying to provide needing peace from the assaults of outsiders. The soldier in Afghanistan needing peace from the war about him/her, and the war of being away from home another year. The spiritually mindful professional needing peace from shallow-minded colleagues. The school student needing peace from bullies, less-ambitious students, and mean teachers.
God spoke peace to our world because of His/Her love for us. “G00d will toward men (and women)” emphasizes God’s pleasure with us. That God ain’t mad at us like some Evangelicals claim. God was not giving a “turn or burn” sermon that night, no. God was pleased with humankind and wanted peace for us. In fact, Christmas is God’s reminder that He/She desires we live in peace-more so in our strife-torn age. God is calling us to come together and heed the words of the Christ that baby would grow up into; the Christ who preached the “acceptable year of the LORD” to us (ref. Isaiah 61:2).
Peace on Earth, good will to humankind…doesn’t sound like a shabby deal. Let’s make it a reality this season and every season, now and forevermore. Amen.
Peace and a Merry Christmas.
(Photo: Mt. Bethel Church in Port Murray, NJ. 2015. Image by Me)