Summary: Part 2 of this new series that is looking into the true meaning of Christmas.
“Christmas Beyond the Wrapping Paper” part 2 God’s Gift of Peace
Brian A. Moon
A number of years ago now I had the opportunity to go spend a week on a houseboat floating down the St. John’s River in north Central Florida. It was a busy week leading up to this trip and when we arrived I found myself getting the boat ready and loading all of the items we would need for the trip instead of relaxing. That night when we finally got to where we were going to anchor for the evening and had eaten dinner I climbed up onto the roof of the boat and sat down on a lawn chair tired and worn out. As I sat there looking up into the pitch black night sky at all the brilliantly shining stars and listened to the complete silence of the setting I experienced an amazing peace and calmness like nothing I had ever experienced.
As I look back on that moment I realize now just how special it really was because peace is something that is in short order today. The holiday season is upon us and it is in full swing this year. The Christmas decorations and sales were beginning this year before Thanksgiving and now they are everywhere you go.
It is impossible to walk into a mall these days and not have to wait in line for 30 minutes or not to be bumped into, stepped on, or pushed to the side by that rude old lady who just had to get the last cinnamon sugar pretzel at Aunt Annie’s…
As I was driving the other day I saw a light display on a persons house and it said “Peace on Earth” in big red and green light bulbs. I had to laugh at this because I was stuck in traffic on McMullen Booth Road with some person honking and waving their middle finger at me to move so they could pass by me on the grass. Is this what Christmas time is all about, hurrying to the mall, fighting through crowds, fighting traffic to get home and then running out again because you forgot the wrapping paper? What about that sign I saw that said peace on earth? What about this peace, where can I get some? Another item in that persons yard with the peace on earth lights was a manger scene. It was complete with a plastic Mary and Joseph, a little baby Jesus and even the Wise Men and camels. This little scene is a reminder to us all tonight of the true meaning of Christmas. It is about gifts, but not the ones that come in bright shinny paper, but instead it is about God’s gifts to the world through his Son Jesus.
The Bible says, “Though he was God… He laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And He humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminals death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8 TLB
2,003 years ago now God looked down upon this earth that he had created and saw that we need things like hope, and peace, and some way to be free from evil and sin, So he sent down his Son Jesus in the form of a little baby boy that would change the world forever.
The Bibles record of this says this, “In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord…’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ Luke 2:8 – 14 NRSV
Underline the last words “Peace among those whom he favors”
God’s gift of Jesus was a gift of peace for you and me today. It is because of Jesus that we can have peace on the inside, peace on the outside, and peace with God. Let’s look at the first one of those, God’s gift of Jesus means:
Peace on the inside
Duke University did a study on "peace of mind." Factors found to contribute greatly to emotional and mental stability are:
1) the absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness. 2) Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression. 3) Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it. 4) Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress. 5) Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune. 6) Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues--love, humor, compassion and loyalty. 7) Do not expect too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between self-expectation and your ability to meet the goals you have set, feelings of inadequacy are inevitable. And the last one which I find most interesting is: