Peace on Earth

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men!" Great words. But are they relevant words? Are they true words? Look at all the other words we'll hear this week!

"U.S. troops in the bitter cold of Bosnia." "Murder down among adult population but skyrocketing among juveniles." "Twin babies found abandoned in highway rest stop." "Local talk show host forced to resign because of recurrence of drug problems." "Gang shoot out wounds two teenagers." "Over fifty are expected to die in holiday driving, most due to excessive speed and drunk drivers." "Most dangerous time of the year for suicides and domestic violence."

Peace on earth?

Because we cannot escape the limits of human failure and mortality, God chose to enter our world and share our human limits in Jesus. While the story of Jesus' birth is sweet and precious, it is also stark and real. Taxes displace a family from its home at the most importune time. A poor family has to take shelter in a barn. No room in the inn. Common folks have a great celebration. Powerful folks jealously plot murder to protect their power. A family has to leave the neighborhood for the safety of their child. Many children are murdered by rampaging soldiers. A mother marvels at the beauty of her child and wonders what he will be. A father must act decisively to care for his new family. Gifts are exchange by people who don't really know each other except because of a shared sense of hope. This is Christmas in the real world.

This is also the story of Jesus' birth. This is the way God chose to come to earth. Not as a conquering king, but as one of us. Not in a royal procession isolated from the realities of human struggle, but placed in a feed trough right in the middle of human struggle. God anchored himself to our world through the common and everyday realities of our lives so we could know we are invited to go be with him when our time here is completed.

When you see the headlines in the paper or broadcast on the evening news, remember, Jesus came to insure we find peace by taking part in our world without peace. The headlines we hear we the headlines he lived. More than a sentimental journey, Christmas is a reminder that God loved us so much that he would wear human skin and face human challenge so we could find peace in him when we're finished here.

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men!" That's God's blessing to his troubled children. So don't just look for God's grace in the twinkling lights and the sweet smiles of happy children at Christmas. Hear the bad news of the headlines and be reminded of his grace because he has lived beneath those same headlines so that we wouldn't always be bound to them.

Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, goodwill to all people. (Luke 2:14)

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