It’s that time of year again - a mixture between enjoyment of being with family and friends, catching up personally or via news sent through the post or email and the stress of getting everything ready, travelling hither and yon and worrying what to buy for various people.
Strange, that really Christmas is meant to be the celebration of the arrival of The Prince of Peace to our world!
It has made me reflect on the meaning of Peace and I wondered what it would mean to you.
In global terms it often refers to lack of war - the mistaken declaration of “Peace in our time” in 1939 still rings around the world. More recently, we hear of ‘Peace talks” , marking the beginning of a conversation about granting concessions and agreement to lay down arms.
More sublimely, we speak of ‘peace and quiet’ - refering to a lack of noise. An escape to the country is a dream for us where we can hear nothing but the sound of the breeze or an occasional bird or sheep. That constitutes ‘quiet’, but does it really bring peace?
It is Isaiah who refers to the coming Messiah as ‘The Prince of Peace’ but did he foresee by that a divine ruler who would sort things out for the people of Israel - free them from their enemies, or was he refering to a new creation where ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb.....they will neither harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain”
Of course Isaiah prophesied all of that and much more and for many people today in war-ravaged countries, that would be a glorious hope. But do we have to be in that situation to know true peace?
If you stop to consider for one moment what peace means to you, would it be those things, or would it rather be freedom from concerns that knot our stomachs - our health, finances, concern for others like our family members or close friends, worry about work and security, fear of the future.
Jesus actually said (Matt. 10:34) ‘I did not come to bring peace’ and went on to describe how families would be riven by those who decided to follow Jesus and those who chose not to, but he also said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14:27).
So, I would suggest, the peace that Jesus brings is not freedom from cares and worries and war, but a gift of a trust and dependence on the Lord who is over all, a relationship with the Almighty God who allows us to represent Him and who bestows on us His image and characteristics that we might be ‘peacemakers,’ bringers of peace, messengers of joy and hope is a world that is confused and lost, a world which muddles materialism with happiness and celebrity with completeness.
May you know God’s real peace this Christmas time and in the year ahead.