While preparing this week’s newsletter I started singing Christmastime Is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas. The first verse goes like this:
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year
As I get older I seem to have become somewhat of a humbug. When I start thinking about the Christmas season a list of negative things immediately forms in my mind. I won’t bother you with the details, but suffice it to say, it’s a lot of mental and emotional work sorting through it all to get down to the good stuff. Sad to say, peace is one of the last things I think of when it comes to Christmas.
As I dig down deeper into the idea of peace, I realize that I’m dealing with a misconception of what peace really is. To quote J. Oswald Sanders, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.” Sanders is getting at a misunderstanding that peace is primarily circumstantial and dependent upon the lack of conflict. His solution, though, is one of presence. Presence requires openness. In order to receive God’s presence, we need to let go of our need for control and open up to the reality that God’s presence brings companionship and resourcefulness. Saying yes to God means that we are not alone and that solutions to what is stressing us are made available.
Peace is the product of making space. We can make space in time, place, and relationships, and space provides avenues of potential. Making space in our schedule allows us to breathe and connect with God and people and to become agents of peace in the process. Making space in the place we live allows us to be open to relationship and provides a place to be that agent of peace. Making space is our hearts allows us to be open relationally, to be Jesus in our world, loving God by loving others.
So, back to the song “Christmastime Is Here,” peace comes when we make space to experience all the wonder and beauty that surrounds us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus with those who are close to us in proximity and in heart.
“Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” (Luke 2:14 CEB)
May you experience the favor of God’s peace as you open up to the presence of God and those who come close to you this Christmas season.
Grace and peace,
Embracing Peace from earlier this year.