The Peace We Sing at Christmas

DSC_0473Peace. Whether as a sentiment in a card or sung at the mall, it adorns the season- like so many other ornaments of the holidays. I don’t really think much about “why” this is, as Christmas surrounds me. I sure have long enough to ponder things like peace, since the decorations have been hung and the carols have been sung since sometime in October. Even though the Christmas season is stretched and pulled thin throughout several months, I actually don’t find more peace or less frenzy.

In the Christmas and non-Christmas months I think we all long for peace, though it may be cloaked in other things. We might use words like “rest,” “a break,” “problem-free,” “contentment,” or “order” to describe what we want or need, but really we desire everything to be more peaceful with as few bumps as possible and some needed time to ourselves. How do you experience peace? Is it a calm feeling? Is it lack of confrontation and being in a friendly relationship, or at least not disputing with one another? Is it being in control? Or is it a sense of “rightness,” purpose, or trust felt at the moment? Even though “peace” is sung about at the holidays, it can seem far from peaceful. Life can seem far from peaceful. What if there was something, like a magic pill or a solution, that would give calm to this chaotic world, security in our hearts, and confidence for the future? I think the world would want it. It is waiting for it.

 Peace Enters the World

IMG_0661As I entered the four weeks leading up to Christmas I was struck with this advent verse:

This One will be our Peace. Micah 5:5

The Old Testament declares that this Messiah (Jesus) is the One who will be our peace. As I reflected on it for a moment, I quickly thought about the ramifications in its fulfillment for me and for the world.  Is this the peace I sing about at Christmas?

 Peace with God

I didn’t understand really who Billy Graham was as a child. In my teenage years he was a religious man who spoke to large crowds about “Peace with God.” This topic seemed a little too ordinary or common: of course God and peace go together. What was the big deal? Wasn’t heaven suppose to be a peaceful place of puffy white clouds, angels and singing? It also seemed that if God was blessing, then we have peace. Peace didn’t seem like one of my needs at that point since my life seemed rather calm or “normal.” Peace was needed for those who were at war, in deep trouble or didn’t believe in God. I just couldn’t relate to having a need for “Peace with God.”

Having a few more years behind me, I can’t avoid the great urgency for peace in the world. The unrest from Ferguson to Syria and Africa to Hong Kong, and everywhere in between, daily, if not hourly, afflicts our news and devices. Closer to home, I feel heartbroken over the lack of peace in lives and families– with untimely deaths, divorce, bankruptcy, dysfunctional cycles repeating itself, and deep heartache. I cannot miss the obvious needs for peace. Yes, they need peace there. Yes, we need peace here. Will this peace we sing about at Christmas help this restless world?

 Peace Maker

Again, I reflect:

This One will be our Peace.

There is so many ways we try and find peace. We may seek to be independent, or alone because we can feel more at peace when we are in control. We fight, picket, complain because we so desperately want a better world. The world we imagine is a world of peace. We avoid, and stuff problems so we don’t have to face tension– again seeking peace.

I can’t help but think that the very thing the world longs for, what we long for, is found in “This One.” Is it offering much more than a nice easy feeling, a temporary friendly relationship or superficial solution? The peace of Christmas runs much deeper than a nice sentiment; it is One who deeply satisfies and fulfills all our deepest longings for His purposes and for our very best. “This One” has come for Ferguson, Syria, the sick in Africa, the unsatisfied in Hong Kong and everyone and everywhere in-between.

Unfortunately, many cannot find “this One,” for God seems distant, narrow and oblivious. Yet, God does reveal Himself as a very personal, well-aware, involved God. It doesn’t take long into the gospels to discover this. Jesus is not distant and disengaged. He demonstrates that the broken pieces need peace, and He seeks to provide it. He breaks social barriers, gives forgiveness and healing, and builds a bridge between God and man through His death. This One is the Peace Maker. How could we not want His kind of Peace? Today this is what these broken places of unrest and tragedy need. Yes, they need healing, medicine, shelter and love. But, the world, the suffering, my family and friends need “This One” who will be our peace. The world longs for rest from the unrest and yearns for peace in the broken pieces. Maybe, this is what we sing about at Christmas.

 Yes, they need peace. Yes, we need peace. I need peace.

 Peace Giver

Years later it made sense to me why Billy Graham spoke and wrote about peace with God. The world I live in so evidently points to a need for “This One” who will be our Peace. And then there is the realization, it isn’t just the world that needs it, but I need peace with God. At some point I began to see the greatest need I have is to be right with God– to experience His grace and mercy instead of guilt and shame. So the peace of Christmas is very personal– relating to my own sin and my need for forgiveness and restoration for my soul. God gave His Son, to be this One– the one to bridge the gap, mend my brokenness. and make me whole. The fruit of His life in me is peace– along with love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control growing in me. This sounds like the seeds of peace to me: God and I restored. This One is the Peace Giver. It is time to sing!

 Peace Keeper

Lastly, I reflect about one of the implications of this verse, an implication for the future.

This One will be our Peace.

What about the future? In this world the future is a very uncertain place. We want something different for our future, for our children and for our own life. We want peace and we want it to stay for keeps– peace to be the norm. “This One” also promises full restoration in the heavens and earth. There will be complete peace. He promises a place for the restored– a new world, with He as king, a great feast shared, worship, good work to do, without sin, shame and tears. Isn’t this the world we really long for, a lasting peace– not just a peace that comes and goes, but one that is for keeps? This One is the Peace Keeper.

“This One will be our Peace,” is a full verse, offering:

 Peace between people on earth.

Peace between God and people.

Peace forever with God.

 “This One” is the peace that we sing about at Christmas.IMG_0661

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