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Peace on Earth

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

An incredible scene from the Christmas story takes place in an obscure field near Bethlehem. There the nighttime sky exploded with a blaze of heavenly glory as the angel announced to some dazed shepherds the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. The birth of the Messiah. God with us.

And as if that wasn’t spectacular enough, suddenly a great company of the heavenly hosts illuminated the countryside, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

How astonishing that must have been for those shepherds to witness the praise and glory that delivered the news of great joy for all people. But have you ever wondered if maybe the angels got the peace part wrong? I mean, “peace” isn't typically a word used to describe life as we know it in this world.

When we hear the word peace, images gather in our mind of a place like the little town of Bethlehem in their deep and dreamless sleep, or even away in the manger where the cattle are lowing, and the baby awakes but no crying he makes. All is calm. Quiet. Tranquil.

We desperately long for that type of peace. But our reality is a long way from Bethlehem. Our babies cry, and uninterrupted sleep is just a daydream. Chaos and stress are more often the norm than the exception.

So again, where is the peace promised by the angels?

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. Perhaps the peace the angels announced to the shepherds has nothing to do with our surroundings or choices made by other people. Perhaps true peace was born in the violence and cruelty of the cross.

The apostle Paul made the connection when he said: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus] and through him to reconcile all things…by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV)

Regardless of what we are facing, by faith in Jesus through the cross we can be reconciled with God and find everlasting peace that starts in our world. Not a peace defined by our circumstances but a peace that came to us in the innocence of a baby; peace that was delivered through the cruelty of the cross; and peace that was sealed by the victory over sin and death through the sacrifice of the sinless body and blood of Jesus.

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace for all people. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Wishing you all the peace and joy of Christmas!

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