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and the Arts--and anything else that comes to mind.
The night Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the wonderful news of his
birth was announced to some shepherds who were watching their sheep in
the nearby fields. All at once, an angel appeared to them, and Godâ€™s
glory shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said, â
€œDonâ€™t be afraid. Iâ€™ve got good news for you and everybody
else in the world. A Savior, Christ the Lord, has been born today in
Then a whole group of angels appeared, singing and praising God:
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:8-14).
Peace. The very word suggests calm, tranquility, freedom from conflict,
harmonious relationships with those around us and a deep serenity within.
About 700 years before the angels sang, the prophet Isaiah had
prophesied of a child to be born, â€œand the government will be on his
shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government
and peace there will be no endâ€� (Isaiah 9:6).
Matthew refers to a later prophecy of Jesusâ€™ peaceful life: â€œHe will
not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised
reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff outâ€�
(Matthew 12:19-20; cf. Isaiah 42:3).
Isaiah and Micah spoke of a time when people would â€œbeat their
swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will
not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymoreâ€�
(Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3). In another reference, Isaiah tells of a Peaceable
Kingdom in which â€œthe wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie
down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a
little child will lead themâ€� (Isaiah 11 6).
In the Sermon on the Mount early in his ministry, Jesus pronounced a
blessing on people who make peace: â€œBlessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of Godâ€� (Matthew 5:9)
Every night, after the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, they show photos and
give names, ranks, ages, and hometowns of men and women killed in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Iâ€™ve watched night after night for years now, a
seemingly never-ending parade of sadness. Theyâ€™re so young, with
such promise Each has family and friends mourning their loss, and each
has a little old woman theyâ€™ve never known tracing their faces, reading
their ages, thinking about their loved ones.
What causes wars? James tells us itâ€™s our desires that battle inside
us. The lack of peace on earth comes from the lack of peace within. We
want things we canâ€™t get. We kill and covet because we donâ€™t
have, and we donâ€™t have because we donâ€™t ask God or ask him
with the wrong motives--to spend on our own pleasures (James 4:1-3).
In my lifetime, weâ€™ve fought a world war as well as wars in Korea,
Vietnam, and Iraq and numerous smaller wars. All put young lives at risk
to satisfy our political and economic interests, our craving for things we
donâ€™t have, our lack of peace within.
Let each of us pray God to â€œlet there be peace on earth, and let it begin
with me.â€� Let us start in our own hearts and move out to our homes
and families, our neighborhoods, our churches, our nation, and our world.
God wants it.
During the holiday season, we often sing of the angels and shepherds in
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
â€œPeace on the earth, good will to men,
From heavenâ€™s all gracious King.â€�
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife,
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
In this month's website, I talk about good will among people, peace with
God, and peace within ourselves. I got the words of carols quoted
throughout the website, and one of the stories I used, from Douglas D.
Anderson's website The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about peace, or any special memories or
traditions of the Christmas season you'd like to share. Email me at b.