Christmas Meditation

Here’s the manuscript of Aaron sermon. May you be blessed by it.

One interesting part of the Christmas season to me is the different titles we give to Jesus.  It’s not the titles that are interesting to me, but the fact that we only use them during this time of year, titles like “King of Kings,” and the “Prince of Peace,” and “Baby Jesus.”  The title “Prince of Peace” is the one I’d like to think about now. You could say we celebrate the birth of Christ because He came and brought peace.  We think of the scene in Luke 2, where in the presence of the shepherds the angels began praising God saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”  We feel good hearing this, and say Jesus came and did bring peace.  “Jesus came and brought peace,” yeah, good devotional focus, Aaron. Well done.

The Problem

Before I pat myself on the back, I see that Debbie Downer is raising her hand and is saying, “Yeah, but it doesn’t seem like He brought peace. In fact,” she says, “didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 10, ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth? I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.’” Waa-Waa. “Oh and what about the state of our world, with tensions in Asia, bank failures, and the fact that The Office ceased being a good show after Season 2? Or, what about the lack of peace in your own social circles, with relational challenges, illnesses, and loss?” Yep, good devotional topic, Aaron.  Thanks for nothing Debbie Downer, you ruined Christmas.

Jesus is a Peace Maker

The idea that Jesus came and brought peace is a misnomer.  It’s a misnomer, because it’s too weak of a statement to give to Jesus.  Jesus did not come and bring peace.  A better statement is that Jesus came to make peace. Jesus is a peace-maker; it’s what He has always done.  At creation we read in Genesis 1 that God hovered over the waters – that is the disorder, the unrest, the mess.  But after all the stages of creation it says He “saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”  In other words, Jesus made peace from chaos.  In Psalm 46, the Psalmist encourages us not be afraid in the face of the apparent realities of life, even if it seems the environment is collapsing or angry, even if the nations are in turmoil and systems tumble.  It says, “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.” He destroys the weapons of war, and calmly encourages us, saying “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations.”  In other words, in the face of our worries and hardships, Jesus calls us to be at rest, and rest in His strength.  In Mark 1, we get an overview of Christ’s earthly ministry.  After His baptism, Jesus gets busy.  He casts out demons; He heals countless sick folks; and preached the good news to the poor.  In other words, in the face of spiritual bondage, illness, and hopelessness, Jesus defeated chaos, and made peace by giving freedom, health, and hope.

Jesus did not come bringing peace. Rather Jesus came to clean house. That’s why we celebrate His birth. Not because He brought peace, but because Jesus makes peace.  It’s what He has always done, and continues to do. We love Him for this truth.  We worship Him for it, and we put our hope in Him for it.

The Difference

So the question is will you join Him in it?  In the face of the chaos you see, will you follow His lead and be a peace maker.  There is a huge difference between being a peace-keeping and a peace-making.  Peace keepers are passive.  They don’t make a stink, so that peace may be maintained, and often inadvertently placate injustices.  Peace makers are active.  They tactfully enter tricky situations and breathe life.  They do what is in their ability to do, as challenging as it may be, for the sake of restoration.

So will you be a peace-maker or a peace-keeper? Will you choose to make peace within yourself, pursuing a balanced lifestyle, or addressing the betterment of your self-concept?  Will you choose to make peace with others around you, using the full measure of grace and forgiveness given to you?  And will you choose to make peace with God?

The way Jesus makes peaces today is real.  I had a friend pass away this week from cancer.  She knew the reality of Christ’s peace.  She entered the next arena of life knowing she was about to enter a the ultimate place of peace: a place where Jesus wipes away every tear, a place without death, sorrow, or pain, a place where Jesus gives away to all who are thirsty the waters of abundant life, a place we belong – home.

Jesus invites us to dwell in the peace He is making and has made, and invites to be peace-makers in His name.  At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus, not because He brought peace, but because Jesus makes peace, and because we can put our hope in His peace to come.

Merry Christmas!

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