Christmas Day was this week and, I hope, at least some of our OFB readers are continuing the celebration with the Twelve Days of Christmas. As we do and as a New Year beckons, what do we carry from this holiday time into life?
This week’s column is adapted from Tim’s Twelve Days of Christmas booklet for 2023-2024, The Fruit of Christmas. You can download the full booklet for free or purchase it for a low cost in Kindle format or Paperback from Amazon.
All too few Christmases today revolve around the source of the name. With little reference to the Christ and no time to go to a service celebrating Him on “Christ’s mass” day. Even when we do play sacred songs, even when do go to a Christmas Eve or Day service, even when we make Jesus in some sense key to the day, do we hold onto the heart of what He did?
Jesus came to bring peace. When the angels declared His birth, they gave glory to God and then declared His peace. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
There are a lot of things people might say they think of when they think of those who say they follow the one born on Christmas, but is “peace” at the top? Like love and joy, peace is at the heart of the Christmas miracle.
People try to achieve peace through worldly means. If only I had enough success, I would feel peace and could give peace to my loved ones. If only we could pass a particular piece of legislation, there would be greater peace throughout society. Indeed, not worrying about finances might offer something that feels like peace and changing laws might bring less discord, at least to a particular part of society. These aren’t necessarily bad things when we understand the limits of what we are doing, but these things are not peace.
We end up in a better financial place only to find new ways to worry about managing those finances and to discover just how many of our problems are unimproved by having a better grasp on our money. A piece of legislation passes, and it stirs up new discord worse than the old, creating problems well beyond what we hoped would be solved. Even our best attempts only approximate the peace God gives. When all our attempts fail, we finally face the painful fact that we cannot reach peace on our own. At best, we can offer a cessation of hostilities, a break from the constant agitation we see in every segment of our lives.
As Jesus was about to send out His disciples, what did He say to them? “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). The ancient Christian greeting has echoed “Peace be with you” with the response “And also with you.” We always find ourselves going out into a world that is not at all peaceful, but those who really celebrate Christmas ought to live in that world as bearers of Jesus’s peace.
The world gets angry, the world breaks things. But the Savior restores and heals and sends His People to offer His healing to those He places in our paths.
God isn’t interested in the temporary cessation of hostilities we often label “peace.” The Bible instead points to experiencing the Prince of Peace, Jesus, and restoration and healing in knowing Him. As God brings peace into our lives, He then wants us to be those who help others to reach the fullness of who He made them to be too.
To experience, truly and fully, peace.