Summary: In the midst of all that is going on around us, you can have peace. It’s not the temporary peace the world offers – it’s better. The angels promised it, Jesus promised it, and it stands available to you now. That is God’s Christmas gift to you.
Pieces on Earth
Wildwind Community Church
December 20, 2008
Would you stand please for the reading of God’s Word? We pick up here in Luke, chapter 2 verse 8. Jesus has just been born in the stable and suddenly the scene shifts. I want to read this out of the King James Version because it’s the most popular. Anyone who has ever seen A Charlie Brown Christmas will remember this, because Linus quotes this passage word for word.
Lk 2:8-14 (KJV)
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Let me ask you something. When you look around this world, do you see much peace? Do you see a lot of peace in your place of work? Teens, do you see a lot of peace at school? Parents, is there peace in your home? People of Wildwind, is there peace in your heart? Are your heart and soul at rest, or are you restless – without peace? Are you anxious? Are you worried about what’s happening in the world? With the economy? With the environment? With your job? With your children? “On earth, peace – good will toward men.” Where’s the peace the angels promised?
It seems like everywhere we look we see not peace but pieces. Our economy is in pieces. Our environment is in pieces. Our ability to make real connections with people is in pieces, as we live in a fragmented society where even those of us who wish to live in community spend the vast majority of our time in these little personalized boxes we call home. Teens, you probably don’t understand that, because your lives are all about school, all about your friends and who you’re hanging out with and what you’re doing this weekend. I don’t say this to scare you, but not long after you celebrate your graduation, your life will change in ways you can’t imagine. Life in high school is delivered to you whole – most of your friends are there, your meals are there, your social events are there, your activities are there – but after graduation suddenly a lot of that isn’t there anymore and now you begin the task of living in the real world, where friendships don’t come as easy, where you have to prioritize connection with people, and where some of the concerns I’m talking about tonight start to become more and more real to you. Life isn’t delivered to you whole anymore – you have to begin picking up a piece here and a piece there, and piecing together a life that will work in the world. And teens, what I want to tell you is that a lot of us adults are still struggling to get it right. There are still pieces we are missing.
Right adults? Do you feel like the more you pick up different pieces and try to fit them into your life, the more you notice how many pieces there are? There’s work/career, family, church, God, personal growth, exercise, nutrition, home and auto concerns, bills, school, and a thousand other pieces that you’re trying to fit together into a whole – into a life – and it seems like we can’t get it quite right – we can’t get the pieces to fit together properly – or we don’t have all the pieces in place yet – or we’re realizing that as hard as we might try to put the pieces together, so many of the pieces aren’t in our control.
Our health isn’t totally in our control. Our job security isn’t totally in our control. Our protection from war and terrorism isn’t in our control. The choices our kids make are more and more out of our control as they get older. Relations between America and other countries are not in our control at all, and that stuff could have a huge impact on our lives. What happens in the environment and with the economy is largely out of our control. People are riddled with doubts, with fears, with insecurities, with guilt, with regrets. They are slaves to addiction, to a constant need for approval, to a nagging feeling of anxiety or to outright terror, to needs for love and belonging that never seem to quite get met. Those who run to God and religion often struggle to make that piece fit right – they run to it for security and instead it creates more guilt, more fear, and maybe even some arrogance. Those who reject God and religion have to figure out ways to deal with the fact (in their minds) that they will live, die, become dirt, and that’s all.