There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2
Peace on earth - what an interesting concept. At this point our world seems to have everything but peace. We have threats, we have disease, we have loss, we have division, there is much uncertainty and fear and we are so divided we are not sure we can talk about it even with family or friends without causing more division. Besides a lack of peace in the world, our country, our homes, we don’t always have peace within. Like Adam and Eve after eating the fruit the relationship was shattered. We have shattered relationships. We have relationships that have ended. We’ve lost loved ones and we feel sadness, despair and empty.
The peace that is missing within ourselves often has something to do with the relationship with our Creator and the One who sustains and empowers us. That relationship too might be lost, changed, feel distant or doubted. We want that to be different!
Christmas is a season of joy and deep meaning. I have come to feel that Christmas can be a difficult season because of the deep meaning. We want a perfect peace. We want this imperfect messed up world to be perfect. We want this peace on earth and we try to make it that way with decorations and gifts and songs and gatherings and meals. The angel on that silent, holy night declared Christmas to be a time of “good tidings” and “great joy,” meant for “all people.” We want that!
For some having joy includes feeling good cheer and a vibrant happiness. But joy, in its fuller, spiritual meaning of expressing God's goodness, involves more. It is a deep-rooted, inspired happiness. It’s a peace that passes all understanding as our liturgy once said. The prophet Nehemiah expressed "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10
In John 17 we read “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
The One speaking that is the grown up One who was announced to the shepherds “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ he Lord.” And the angels also said “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” The sign we know of this Savior is a cross and an empty tomb. It's the waters of baptism and His body and blood in, with and under the bread and wine.
We don’t feel peace all the time because we are not finished products and we still live in an imperfect difficult world with struggles and uncertainty and its always going to be that way. We are still learning and growing; learning and growing in our faith and walk with God; learning and growing in who we are the beloved children of God; learning and growing often through and by the struggles that we endure.
Little David was terribly frightened. He had put his fist into his grandmother’s expensive narrow-necked vase and was unable to pull it out again. Unable to help him his grandmother called the neighbors to help with the situation. Eager to help friends next door hurried over and worked with David 20-30 minutes to no avail. Finally, someone asked David if he has opened his fist inside the vase so it could be withdrawn easier. “O no” David said, “then I’d lose my marble that I dropped in here!”
How often do we hang on to our way, our solution, our plan, even our pain instead of letting go and trusting the one who gives life? How important it is for us to hang on to the promises and assurances from our God in all times. Through the Spirit of God working in Word and Sacraments God gives us his power. He gives us His peace. He gives us hope. He is present for all times and through all situations.
A prayer “Lord God help me remember Your grace and promises fulfilled in past and what it says about my life in the present and future.” Amen.