Summary: 2nd in Advent Series on Christmas Gifts
A little boy and a little girl were singing their favorite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “sleep in heavenly beans.”
His sister elbowed him, and said, “No. Not beans, peas!”
The way many of us feel by the time we are ready for Christmas; the song might just as well end with beans or peas instead of peace.
In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy says to Charlie Brown, "I hate everything. I hate everybody. I hate the whole wide world!"
Charlie Brown says, "But I thought you had inner peace."
Lucy replies, "I do have inner peace. But I still have outer obnoxiousness"
But have you ever stopped to think what would have happened if it had been the three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men?
1. They would have asked directions in Bethlehem rather than feeling that they needed to stop off at the Palace in Jerusalem,
2. They would have arrived on time,
3. They would have helped deliver the baby; they would have cleaned the stable and given practical gifts – like bringing a casserole and
4. There would be Peace on Earth.
In another "Peanuts" comic, Lucy had a score to settle with Charlie Brown. She is chasing him shouting, "I’ll get you Charlie Brown! I’ll get you! I’ll knock your block off, Charlie Brown!"
Charlie Brown, who has been running full speed, stops, turns around and says, "Wait a minute. Hold everything. We can’t carry on like this. We have no right to act this way. The world is filled with problems--people hurting other people, people not understanding other people. Now, if we as children can’t solve what are relatively minor problems, how can we ever expect to . . .”
At this point, Lucy interrupts Charlie Brown, hits him with a left to his jaw, knocking him out. She says, "I had to hit him quick; he was beginning to make sense."
Isn’t that the way it is? So many times we, as human beings, war with other human beings and we don’t even know the reason why, or we war inside of ourselves. We have constant turmoil and war going on inside of our own lives.
In the scripture reading for today we heard the angels announce to the shepherds on that first Christmas night: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
WHAT IS THIS CHRISTMAS PEACE? that the angels announced to the shepherds.
There is a place in the Bible that I think many misunderstand. A lot of people, including Christians, have given it as an excuse for holy wars. It is where Jesus says to us, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." [Matthew 10:34]. NKJV
Here is what this means to me. What is peace? It is not complacency or smugness. This is what I believe the original word meant in this particular verse. I come to you, not to bring complacency, but to bring a sword.
The Message paraphrase helps in my understanding of this passage. It reads "Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut …. cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God.”
You see, the sword represents a dividing line between the choice to be self-satisfied or self-righteous and the decision to build a new way of life. In other words the sword is about repentance, turning around and walking in a new direction even in the midst of friends and family who may try to distract you from the journey of faith.
I come to tell you about possibilities. I come to give you muscle in your lives. I come to give you joy overflowing. But you can’t have it if you remain complacent. You have to rise above that. You have to accept a greater power than your own. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5 NKJV
Many people are facing conflicts this holiday season. Some have unhappy marriages and it’s like a war zone when they go home. Or they are facing financial trouble and it’s like a war zone when they get the calls from the creditors. I know many of you are facing things, but you can still find peace. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:7 NIV
The message of Christmas time, the message of the Prince of Peace, is this: nothing can bring you peace but YOUR OWN DECISION TO ALLOW THE Prince of Peace to rule your heart and life. You see, you make the decision whether you’re going to have peace today and in this moment or not. You cannot lose your peace through what others are doing. You lose your peace because of what you are failing to do to make that holy connection with the Spirit of Christ.