For this year’s Advent series, we will look at the themes of Advent, hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ, through the lens of community. Last week I wrote about hope, this week our topic will be peace.
As I think about peace at Christmas time, I immediately go to the passage in Luke’s gospel where the angels proclaim, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2:14) But as I was thinking about it, I found myself asking, “What is this peace that Jesus brings?”
I believe that it has less to do with the emotional feeling of being at ease than it is the reality of living in unity with one another. I find in both Mary’s song and Zechariah’s prophecy (Luke 1) that through Messiah’s reign there will be an equalization of people. Everyone will have an equal standing in the kingdom of God, rich and poor, strong and weak. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians picks up this theme.
Christ is our peace. He made both Jews and Gentiles into one group. With his body, he broke down the barrier of hatred that divided us. He canceled the detailed rules of the Law so that he could create one new person out of the two groups, making peace. He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross, which ended the hostility to God. (Ephesians 2:14-16)
A community of peace is an open community. One that welcomes in those we don’t know and who may be different than us. And if I have learned anything from Jesus it is that openness requires change. If we allow God to change us then we will be more able to embrace others. I’ve also learned that being a people of peace begins with the relationships closest to us.
I pray we have the grace to give the gift of peace this Christmas.
Grace and peace,