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Summary: A sermon about peace through Christ during violent times.

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"Christmas Gifts that Won't Break: The Gift of Peace"

Luke 2:8-14

"Love your enemies and pray for those who harass you..."

"You must not oppose those who want to hurt you.

If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well."

"...just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete."

These are some very key teachings from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How are you doing at living them out?

How am I doing?

Sometimes I don't feel like I'm doing very well.

Author Andrew Santella puts it this way:

"This morning, for example, you were running late for an 8:30 meeting and you just wanted to get your latte and a bagel from Starbucks and run.

Of course the guy in front of you in line had to spend 10 minutes talking to the woman behind the counter about that most fascinating of topics, the weather.

You’re ashamed to admit it now, but you were on the verge of balling up your 10-dollar bill, throwing it across the counter and screaming for service.

Actually, the whole day has been a little like this.

At work, you had a tense exchange with your boss about what he called “peculiarities” in your expense account.

Even now, on your way home, as you were inching toward a tollbooth, it happened again.

You had 20 minutes to get home, pick up your daughter and drive her over to her dance lessons.

No chance, right?

The traffic was going nowhere when suddenly, thank God, another lane opened up.

You went for it.

So did the guy in your blind spot.

A Hummer, cutting right across your bow like you weren’t even there.

And off you went, laying on the horn, screaming some embarrassingly unoriginal obscenities, spittle flying, face contorted.

If you could have caught a peek of yourself in the rear-view at that moment, you would have seen a person who appeared utterly insane.

Here’s the thing — and maybe you’ll find this comforting or maybe you’ll find it frightening.

There are a lot of you out there.

Rage seems to be all the rage lately.

Look around; it’s not difficult to conclude that the world is getting angrier and angrier.

Our politics is angry.

Our popular music is angry.

Our highways run like rivers of anger."

Do you feel it?

I do.

Even some of our Christians seem angry.

Recently, the president of Liberty University urged his student body to start carrying concealed weapons with their books.

“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in” President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said before 10,000 people at the Christian college.

It's been argued that one of the most telling signs of a national problem with anger is the hostile tone of our political discourse.

Some call it a new style of anger.

“For the first time in our political history,” author Peter Wood writes, “declaring absolute hatred for one’s opponent has become a sign of good character.”

It’s not just that people have such fury," Wood argues, "it’s that they are so proud of their rage, so eager to broadcast it, so determined to assert their rage as a badge of their identity.

The terrorists, the abortion clinic bombers and school shooters may be the most violent examples of contemporary rage.

But don’t forget angry posts on Facebook, finger-pointing cable-news hosts, brawling professional athletes, bullying school kids, and those Little League parents who go after umpires, veins bulging.

Once you start looking for anger, you see it everywhere.

So is there any hope for the anger in our world, in our everyday lives?

Is there any reason to believe that someday you will be able to survive the afternoon commute without someone screaming or tailgating?"

On the night Jesus was born, the angel said to the shepherds: "Don't be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you--wonderful, joyous news for all people.

Your savior is born...

...Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God.

They said, 'Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace..."

The word for "peace" in the Bible means wholeness.

It's a "peace" in which our relationship with God, others, the natural world, and ourselves is what God intended all along.

And it alone brings well-being.

This peace is no longer some far off in the distant hope; it's a present reality, as a result of the arrival of the Prince of Peace.

"Now wait," you may say.

"Our world is at war."

"People are buying guns like they are tic tacs."

"Terrorists are scaring everybody."

"Peace?"

"What you talkin' bout?

There is no peace."

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