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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