If you had to chose one word to describe 2020 what would you choose? Mine is whirlwind!
When COVID hit I found myself scrambling to figure out online services, zoom small groups, park services, and I added a third boy to the family!
What comes to your mind when you think of Christmas? I think what we need most this year is, PEACE
But ever since people sinned, from the first sibling rivalry when Cain killed Able, peace has been illusive. This year though, the current crisis has caused many things that once bubbled under the surface to rise to the forefront. Not to mention all of us have been dealing with personal problems with the stress of canceled plans, jobs, classes, or just the stress of figuring out what do on your day off.
In the mist of the chaos we all have ways of seeking peace. What’s yours?
- Maybe it’s the Life-changing Magic of Tidying up, and only keeping things that sparks joy. Or it’s the opposite, buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t even like.
- Maybe it’s scrolling through social media, or quitting social media.
- Maybe it’s retreating to nature, on hiding in your bedroom.
This year more than ever, Amy Grant’s song Grown-up Christmas List describes what many of us really want,
“No more lives torn apart, Then wars would never start, And time would heal all hearts. And every one would have a friend, And right would always win, And love would never end.”
Deep down we realize that is the peace God planned us for, but as long as we live in a sinful, broken world it won’t happen. But for now what kind of peace does Christmas bring us?
How do we unwrap the peace Jesus came to bring us at Christmas? We must…
God orchestrated it so Mary’s due date would align with Caesar’s census so that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem and fulfill the prophesy Micah gave hundreds of years earlier.
Leaders like Caesar might flex their muscles to show their power but behind the scenes God is quietly displaying his power by working out everything according to his plan.
When Mary & Jospeh got to Bethlehem, all the Air Bnb’s were booked up, so king of the universe was born in a stinky stable and laid in a feed trough.
That night shepherds watching their sheep were suddenly startled by an angel who appeared to them in blazing glory saying,
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:10–14
In a lot of Christmas movies the question comes up, what’s the real meaning of Christmas? Usually it’s some version of giving not getting, family, and making the world better for others, all great things, but that’s not what the angel’s said.
What would you say if someone asked you to explain the real meaning of Christmas? The one word answer is JESUS! Here’s what Christmas is about.
Christmas is the celebration of salvation through reconciliation.
It’s good news of great joy for all people! God could have sent his angels to anyone, but he chose simple shepherds. These were ordinary blue collar workers, not the high ranking officials you would expect a king to come to, show that in God’s kingdom everyone’s invited to the party.
But it’s not just a celebration for the sake of celebration, our culture wants the great joy without the good news, but it’s the good news that brings the great joy!
Christmas is the celebration of salvation. But what is this good news? First let’s look at the angle’s description of Jesus, “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus is Savior – Jesus came on the ultimate rescue mission to deliver us from sin.
Jesus is the Christ – Christ is not Jesus’ last name, it’s his title, it means Messiah or anointed one. He is the promised one the prophets predicted, the chosen one the Jews were waiting for.
Jesus is Lord – He’s leader, the ruler, the king. He is Emanuel, “God with us.”
God did not just send us a message he became a man, he didn’t just give us a story, he wrote himself into the story. Jesus is savior, messiah AND Lord, to truly accept him you must accept all of him!
The angel told them they would find the baby wrapped up and lying in a manger. Next, a heavenly flash mob appeared praising God saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Luke 2:14
Remember, Christmas is a celebration of salvation through reconciliation. Reconciliation involves making peace between two parties. But what does this peace look like?
Jesus offers internal peace now, and eternal peace later.
The peace Jesus brought at Christmas is not primarily about external peace but internal peace with God. The phrase, “on earth peace among those among those with whom he is pleased” means Christ gives peace to the people he’s pleased with.
So how do you become someone God is pleased with? Most people think of God a lot like Santa, He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s going to find out if your naughty or nice, he sees you when you’re sleeping he knows when you’re awake he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.
But being on the nice list won’t work with God, because all of us are on the naughty list!
Paul said, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:10-11
Jesus came to make peace between God and humanity and he is both the mediator and the peace offering.
The song Hark the Harold says it best, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners, reconciled.”
You and I must receive this reconciliation. A few verses earlier Paul said, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 5:1
The word Justified means to be made right in God’s sight. This justification is what makes it possible for God to look at us and be pleased because when he looks at us he sees the perfect record of Christ and is pleased with what he sees.
Paul said we are justified by faith, meaning because of sin God sent Jesus to make peace possible for us on the cross, and we must take that peace. The amazing thing is that once we receive reconciliation with God part of that package is reconciliation with everyone else who is part of God’s family.
Paul also says, For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. Ephesians 2:14–17
Jesus is our peace, this passage is specifically referring to the divide between Jews and non Jews, but can applyed to all divisions in the body of Christ, political, racial or economic.
On the cross Jesus tore down the walls that divide us and built a bridge with his broken body.
We have been made into one new humanity. In other words, Jesus has already reconciled us to one another, our challenge is to live like it. We can celebrate the beauty of diversity and realize that in Christ we have much more that unites us than divides us. Peace with God leads to peace with his people.
And when you will make peace with God, he sends you out to make peace with others. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matt 5:9
Those who take peace, make peace.
When we act as peacemakers we are acting like our Dad, the ultimate peacemaker.
How can you be a peacemaker this Christmas?
- Maybe it’s adjusting to the preferences to the most COVID sensitive ones of your family.
- Maybe it’s not hitting send on that snarky reply online even though you know it would feel so good.
The way to unwrap peace this Christmas is to receive reconciliation. Only then will you experience the internal peace of knowing you are right with God and experience the unity of being reconciled with God’s people.
How can you better celebrate Christ’s gift of salvation through reconciliation?
How you can be a peacemaker this Christmas?