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peace has come

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Photo by Rose Elena from Unsplash

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Everyone’s looking for a little more joy and a little more peace.

There is a running joke in our family. The kids will ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas or any holiday for that matter, and my response is a quick, “Peace on earth.” And then, observing the disappointed look on their faces, I follow up with, “or peace in our home.” If peace on earth seems an unreasonable wish, then perhaps starting with peace in our home doesn’t sound too far out of reach.

Peace is something each one of us longs for. It tugs at our hearts. It weighs on our minds.

We look for it everywhere, and especially during the Christmas season where peace and joy are promised in every television ad, Christmas tree lot, twinkling lights, and renditions of the classic  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. We wonder, just a little bit, if the purchase of “this” or the singing of “that” will somehow fill us with all the joy and all the peace.

And it often does, for a moment- one brief, Kodak-picture-perfect moment. And then it’s gone. The moment -so fleeting- slips away and there we are again with an all too familiar longing.

Peace.

Joy.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Jesus’ entrance into the world was proclaimed in the heavens. Peace had come to earth.

But not in the way that anyone would have ever expected. When I ask my kids for peace on earth, or at least peace in our home, I am imagining a world – a home – void of conflict, tranquil, quiet, and sweet. When we think of peace, images of a tender silent night or the gentle calm of new fallen snow are what quickly come to mind. But when Peace came down, when love entered the chaos of our world, it didn’t bring freedom from disturbance but rather it came to disrupt.

The word peace in the New Testament was most often the Greek translation of the word eirene, which has the sense of “joining what had previously been separated or disturbed.”

William Barclay says it “means not just freedom from trouble but everything that makes for a man’s highest good.”

Peace came down to join humanity to God: to take what had been separated by sin and bridge the gap so that peace which passes understanding would abide within us and not just around us.

And yet we are still so determined to fill our hearts and our lives with false hopes that bring temporary peace and joy.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.’” Luke 19:41,42

When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time, as he looked out over the landscape of the city, he wept. What stirred his heart to tears? What deep sadness came over him? It was not the betrayal that awaited him or his impending death on the cross. Rather, as Jesus looked out upon the magnificent view, he saw further into the future, and what he saw for Jerusalem broke his heart. The Jews were looking for peace and joy, and they were looking for it in much the same way we typically look for ours. However, Christ knew that only pain and destruction would follow the pursuit of this dream outside of himself.

The longing for peace on earth has been in the heart of humanity since the moment that sin entered. At the center of every action is this desperate desire to feel the nearness of God, regardless of how this need is articulated. At the heart of us all is a deep knowing that God will bring us the peace we crave, the peace that brings joy, and the peace that sits at the top of our Christmas lists year after year.

Peace came down. And there is true Peace on earth.

It is a peace that will not be felt or experienced in one more gift or one swift political move or one more Christmas carol.

The peace and joy that we are looking for comes from the God of all hope. And it comes supernaturally. It comes when Jesus, our precious Savior, rests upon the throne of our hearts. It doesn’t remove the struggle, and it is not an automatic fix for every problem we face, but Jesus does give us peace of mind and joy of heart.

Peace on earth has come.

Let that Peace abide within.

And there our joy is made complete.

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet their words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

.

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along the unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

.

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

.

‘Till ringing, singing, on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

.

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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