Summary: Christmas Series part 2
The Cantata will be performing here at Bethel at 3 o’clock today. We’ve been working on the songs we will be singing for about 2 months now. At the beginning of every practice we warm up our voices because talking all day is different than singing. (give example)
I remember when I was in a choir at another church. We would meet on Thursday nights to practice and we would also warm up. But that director would ask for our favorite hymns to warm up with. It didn’t matter to me. It could be 900 outside and I would always say “#239” (from the hymnal that church used). That was, and still is, my favorite hymn. It’s not that warm today so join with me in singing that now. That director finally quit using that technique for us to warm up.
Sleep in heavenly peace. But wait a minute. What peace? Where is this peace we’re supposed to have?
Last week we focused on hope. Jesus brought hope to a hopeless world. Hope springs eternal because the one we hope in is eternal.
This morning we relit the candle of hope and then lit the candle of peace. Now, considering the state of affairs in our world today, we can rightly ask, “What peace”? Let me read some headlines from the papers this week.
Peace, it would seem, is a stranger to us. The Society of International Law, based in London, states that during the last 4,000 years there have been only 268 years of peace, only 7% of the time was there “peace”! In the last 3 centuries there have been 286 wars on the continent of Europe alone. 8000 peace treaties were made—and broken. During this period there have been 14,351 wars, large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed.
Can anyone tell me what happened on this date in history? Just 22 years after WWI ended, the “war to end all wars”, our “peace” was shattered in the early morning attack on Pearl Harbor, and WWII was begun. Then came the Korean “conflict”. Followed by the Vietnam War. Grenada. Desert Storm. The Falkland Islands. Kosovo. And now Al-Qaeda.
I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone here that we live in a world of turmoil, right? All you have to do is watch the news, read the paper to see that things are going wrong. People are fighting all over the world. They’re fighting in Bosnia. They’re fighting in Ireland. They’re fighting in South Africa. They’re fighting in the Middle East. Russia has serious internal conflict. There is fighting over property, rights, a piece of ground.
Our age is characterized by an absence of peace and a presence of turmoil. So we ask ourselves "what happened to ‘peace on earth?’" Where is this peace that Jesus was supposed to be bringing?
Well, obviously, it wasn’t an end to wars or terrorism. At least not in this world. In Matthew 24:6 Jesus tells us that, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…”. But we want to know about now. Where is the peace now? Can we find peace anywhere?
Well, let’s see. Do we find peace in a location away from turmoil? Over 20 years ago a retired couple, concerned about the threat of nuclear war, decided to carefully research the safest place on earth to which they could move and live. They studied and traveled, traveled and studied.
Finally they found THE PLACE. And on Christmas they sent their pastor a card from their new home – in the Falkland Islands – just prior to the war between Argentina and England in the early 1980’s! No, I don’t think we can find peace by running away from turmoil.
No, to find where the peace is, we first have to know WHAT peace is. What is peace? When the world thinks of peace, it defines it as what it isn’t. The dictionary describes it as “the normal, nonwarring condition of a nation”, and “a state of harmony among people or groups”, to name a few. Peace, according to the world, is the absence of turmoil. But, of course, it’s not that simple. Nothing ever is.
What is peace? Well, what KIND of peace are you looking for? Are we talking about relational peace, peaceful circumstances, peace of mind, the peace of a smooth trouble free life, inner peace?
A study was done some years ago around the subject of peace & contentment. One thing it showed is that self-centered, egotistical people scored lowest on any test that measured peace and contentment.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “The trouble with some self-made men is they worship their creator.” The message here is to believe in something bigger than yourself. Mmm, like maybe God, the God who sent peace to the world through his Son.