Summary: Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 And yet, you look at most people’s lives during the holidays and there is anything but peace
A Stress-free Christmas
Luke 10: 38-42
We’re late for caroling! Let’s go,” Cynthia Cutt shouted down the hallway to here teenage daughter. Her stress level had peaked. She was the choir director of our church, so Christmas was her busiest time of year. Sometimes it seemed like the preparations were never done. I’ll be glad when work is all over and my Christmas can really start, I thought on the way to church. The carolers were assembled inside. “Can we sing ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’?” a little boy asked. “I lost my glove!” “Can we go over the harmony again?” I ran around dealing with all the last-minute problems. Finally it was time to go. We hit the streets and broke into “Silent Night” at our first house. An elderly couple opened the door. While we sang, the man put his arm around his wife and hugged her close. We’ve brought Christmas to their door, I thought. That’s when I realized that I’d just experienced all the elements of the holiday—joy, peace and giving to others. I had been rushing so Christmas could begin, but it had been all around me the whole time. Perhaps no other time of year is more stressful than during Christmas
What’s amazing is that the one who brought peace in our lives and who’s birthday and coming we celebrate only seems to stress us out. Isaiah had predicted the Messiah would be the Prince of Peace. Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 And throughout the Gospels, Jesus says to the disciples, “Peace be with you.” And yet, you look at most people’s lives during the holidays and there is anything but peace.
But what really is peace? When we hear the word peace, we usually associate this to mean an absence of war. But, the Hebrew meaning of the word shalom has a much deeper meaning. It literally means "to be complete or whole" or "to live well." It can mean wholeness of life and body as in your health. It can also mean a right relationship between people. When we talk about personal peace, we think of a life free from internal and external strife. There’s the story of a man who sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding one that satisfiedhim, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally day of selection arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered. But none were selected. The tension grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner. Then he uncovered a second painting, and the crowd gasped in surprise. A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil. This is the type of peace Jesus seeks to bring in our lives, a peace that when the world around us seems to be in utter chaos and we can experience utter tranquility. It’s the peace Paul spoke of in Phil. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Where does peace come from? The Bible is very clear that it comes from Jesus. And Jesus himself says that he comes to bring peace. In fact, God commands us to seek peace. Psalm 34:14 says, “seek peace and pursue it.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We should “make every effort to do what leads to peace. Peace comes from a quiet conscience. When the lives we lead do not match up with the faith we profess, it leads to discontinuity in our lives and that creates tension and stress. But when they do mtach up and we have integrity in our lives, there is a peace and tranquility which descends on us. So the first thing we can do is ask ourselves whether our life matches our faith and our talk matches our walk and if there is discontinuity, we need to address that.