Summary: Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!
And On Earth Peace
Text: "Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:13-14 RSV).
Scripture Reading: (Luke 2:4-14)
Hymns: "Glorious Is Thy Name," McKinney
"Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come," Watts
"Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned," Stennett
Offertory Prayer: God of grace and God of glory, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to you we come today in worship and humility that we might acknowledge you as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We acknowledge you as our creator and as the giver of our life. We come today offering the love of our heart, the praise of our lips, and the service of our hands. We come bringing tithes and offerings that we might, with your help, minister to others and publish abroad to the ends of the earth the good news of your love revealed in and through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The great prophet Isaiah looked forward by the help of the Holy Spirit and gave gracious descriptive titles to the Messiah, who would be born in the distant future. We hear him say, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’" (Isa. 9:6 RSV).
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
One of the very significant words of Christmas is peace. The hearts of people everywhere hunger for peace. Many pray for peace. Some have won-dered when Jesus Christ will bring peace. They have surmised that this peace will come only at the end of the age when he comes back as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Some have surmised that Jesus Christ is a failure as a peace-bringer. To take this position is to misunderstand the nature of true peace and the character of the peace that he brings to the human heart. Jesus had much to say about peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27 RSV).
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Following his resurrec-tion from the dead we hear our Lord greeting his apostles on three different occasions with "Peace be with you" (John 20:19, 21, 26 RSV).
John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
John 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Douglas J. Harris, in his splendid book, The Biblical Concept of Peace (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1970), makes a study of the Hebrew word shalom. He provides great insight into the rich meaning, connotation, and application of what Isaiah was talking about and what Jesus refers to in this word translated "peace." "People of Semitic background in the Near East greet those they regard as true brethren with Shalom. Where there is any barrier, the greeting is impossible" (p. 13). The root meaning of the word shalom means to be whole, sound, safe. Dr. Harris continues, "The fundamental idea is totality. God is the source and ground for shalom. Anything that contributes to this wholeness makes for shalom. Anything that stands in the way disrupts shalom" (p.14). A study of the Old Testament’s use of this word reveals the presence of shalom makes for community relationships that are wonderful in which people participate in the blessings of God. The absence of shalom makes for war and turmoil and unhappiness.
The word shalom is used to describe the health and well-being of indi-viduals. It is used to describe true prosperity. It is used to describe that condition of harmony which exists when there is an absence of war.