Summary: Where to find peace at last.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS ... PEACE (Luke 2:14)
Key verse: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests" (Luke 2:14).
Big Idea: Where to find some peace at last.
A friend sent me this email recently ...
A Wise man said to me! "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you’ve started." So I looked around the house to see all the things I started and hadn’t finished ... and before leaving the house this morning I finished off a bottle of red wine, a bottle of white, the Prozac, some Valium, some cheesecake and a box of chocolates.
You have no idea how good I feel!
Well that’s one road to peace, but I imagine that it will have worn off by the next morning.
Another writer defined peace like this, Peace is .... “a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatever sort that is” (Thayer).
I’m sure we’re all familiar with John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” In the eyes of the world this is probably the supreme peace song of our generation. How sad and ironic that he should be murdered by a deranged man - gunned down outside his New York apartment 25 years ago this week.
True peace seems elusive, even to those who fight hardest and cry loudest for it.
But at that first Christmas, angels appeared to some shepherds and declared that peace is available. And just in one single verse from the Bible, we find out where to find peace at last. So let’s take a look ....
1. THE SOURCE OF PEACE
Just over a century ago, archaeologists discovered two magnificent silver cups both with Irish Celtic origins. The first is known as the Gundestrup Cauldron and comes from a century or two before Christ. This was a the time when the Irish worshipped violent pagan gods. It is adorned with pictures of gods and warriors. One panel shows a gigantic cook-god holding squirming humans and dropping them into a vat of oil. These gods demand human sacrifice to appease their appetite.
The second cup is called the Ardagh Chalice and comes from the seventh or eighth centuries after Christ. By this time in history, the Irish had turned to Christianity – thanks to missionary efforts of St Patrick. Like the first cup, it is a work of magnificent craftsmanship, but the God depicted on this cup is radically different. It has a simple but intricate patterning, and the names of the 12 apostles are engraved around the rim. It’s different to the first because this is a cup of peace, and it was designed to be used in communion. (Source: reported in T Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilisation - Hodder, 1995)
In the first cup we see depicted a civilisation of disorder, where violence and fear reign supreme. It’s a society that knows nothing of Jesus Christ. On the second cup we see a civilisation that’s at peace with God – a people who celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Christ.