Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent Message - Peace

For a long time, my wife, Karla, would ask me what I wanted for Christmas. Since it is very difficult to buy a gift for me, it was so much easier for her just to ask me what I wanted. I would often tell her anything would be fine or just tell her that I have already received the greatest gift of all, her love. But, she would ask me again in hopes of me just breaking down and giving her my list of things I wanted for Christmas. I soon got wise to the questions and formulated a new response. 

When asked about my Christmas list, I respond the same way each year, “Peace on Earth and goodwill towards men.”

Of course, I am not the originator of this statement. It comes from the chorus that the angels sang that night when they visited the shepherds who were watching the flocks that night near the little town of Bethlehem and made the announcement of Jesus’ birth.

Although I say it often, it truly is my sincerest wish each year. I wish that we could all live in peace and love our neighbors. To me, if we could just do that, our world would be so different. There would be no greed or ill will to those around us. We would live in peace and harmony as our Father God desires for each of us.

In Psalm 133, the psalmist writes, “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.

Peace and harmony are indeed very precious and very fragile states of living. We often say that we desire peace and harmony, but we do not do anything to live in that way. In fact, we seem to seek trouble and strife. We desire chaos and darkness. We say one thing and then, in the same breath, say something completely contrary to what we fervently desire.

I often wonder why we seem to go out of our way to seek out strife and disharmony. We all want to live in peace and harmony, but we go to great lengths to destroy that which we desire most.

In chapter two of the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah writes, “People from many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

Peace and harmony are not only precious and fragile but they also require that we work to achieve them. It is very easy for us to say those words, but it is something entirely different to truly work at making them the reality we desire.

When you look at the world today, we see everyone literally and figuratively at each other’s throat. We are no longer trying to live by the words of Christ Jesus when he told us to love one another. We prefer to live in a world of chaos and conflict. It seems that even the words and wishes of the angels are wasted during the Christmas holidays.

In the past couple of days, the news has been filled with stories of hatred and deceit. No one wants to come together. It is truly sad to see people divided and living in disharmony. 

Many years ago, the Coca-Cola Company launched, in my opinion, the best Christmas commercial of all time. It featured people from all races and backgrounds. The commercial started with a simple shot of a single lit candle and then you hear people singing a very simple song that calls for unity, peace and harmony. Each person held a candle. As the camera pulled back, the people and the candles formed a Christmas tree. It was truly something very inspiring and made you think what we could do if we just worked together and looked out for one another.

As we look forward to a new year, I ask that we not return the gifts of peace and goodwill, but, rather, keep and share them with others. We truly need to learn and work to live in peace and perfect harmony. To borrow the line from Coca-Cola, those two things are truly the real things in life. Once we learn to live that way, we can stand firm in His grace.    

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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