Peace on Earth
by Karen Whiting
Mary wondered at the news of giving birth to the Savior and praised God (Luke 1:46-55). Joseph had anxiety and fear about Mary’s pregnancy until an angel appeared to him in a dream (Matthew 2:19-20). She gave birth and laid Jesus in a manger because the inn had no room for them. The only response we see regarding Mary in those first hours was that she treasured and pondered it all in her heart (Luke 2:19).
Angels rejoiced at that birth and gave glory to God. At first, one angel appeared to the shepherds and frightened them. The angel calmed them and announced good news of joy for all people. Then an army of angels appeared, praising God and proclaiming peace among men with whom God is pleased (Matthew 2:14). That agrees with John 3:16, one of the most well-known Scriptures, that reminds us that it takes faith in Jesus to have eternal life.
Various people reacted differently to the announcement of the birth of the Prince of Peace. The shepherds rushed to see the baby and quickly shared the news and the words they heard. They glorified God for sending Christ. There’s no mention of how the people that the shepherds met reacted. These ordinary shepherds shared joy and let people ponder the news.
Wisemen, who did not hear the news, saw a unique star and followed it to see the child. Along the way, they stopped at a palace and realized King Herod knew nothing about the birth. They travelled on and presented gifts to the newborn King. They recognized Christ as a different and important King. They left peacefully, without revealing the location of Jesus to Herod.
Herod, troubled at the news, responded with a heart filled with rage . He had no peace. He called for the murder of all boys under two years old (Matthew 2:16). That brings us back to the words of the angels. Peace did not extend to Herod, one with whom God would not be pleased. Killing innocent babies never pleases God and stems from hearts that are not at peace.
We live in a world that often wants to turn the celebration of the most glorious birth event ever into a secular event and drop off the last part of the message from the angels. That also brings anxiety, fighting and trouble to many as they try to celebrate the season. Calm the season by choosing to do less, listen more, limit the gathering time, and enlist help of peacemakers in the family to steer conversations away from conflict. Listening lets people vent a bit and allows you to show empathy that calms the person. Be kind, especially to those who cause the tension, as that reveals a troubled heart in need of tender loving care.
Limiting the length of a party can help keep peace too. Little ones can be overwhelmed, and others can stress out from being around too many people, so a shorter timeframe can be a happier time. When emotions get a bit tense, choose to change things up with caroling or an activity that focuses on Christ. A fun activity is sharing a favorite holiday memory or song.
Christians perceive the Christmas season differently and have more peace. According to a study of Europeans conducted by Michael Mutz, it showed that non-Christian Europeans may experience a reduced quality of life during the Christmas season. He also stated that “People with Christian affiliation and a strong sense of religiousness celebrate Christmas differently than the majority of non-Christians. It can be assumed that these individuals are less prone to becoming absorbed by the consumerism that precedes the holidays.” It truly helps to focus on the reason for the season and peace on earth.
Like the shepherds, we are to celebrate the truth and share a message of peace. People see that more when we live it out with peace in our relationships and being peacemakers. Try a few ways to share peace with others this season.
Go caroling and sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” and chat about the line that mentions God reconciling with sinners.
Pass out candy canes with a note of the shape being “J” for Jesus, and He came to bring peace and forgiveness for sinners.
Buy or make angel cards or online messages with angel graphics, and use the entire verse of Luke 2:14.
Be sure to really listen to peace. Listening well helps to calm a person and to bring them more peace. That can open the door to talking about the peace Christ gives.
Jesus gave us peace in John 14:27. Be a peace giver. Watch a single mom’s children so she can shop in peace or wrap gifts. Offer to shop or decorate for a shut-in neighbor. Or “sock” someone in need with a small stocking that contains a gas gift card to give them a little peace of mind.
Reflect on the angels’ message throughout the Christmas season. Let it fill you with peace and inspire you to invite others to join you in discovering the reason to celebrate. Encourage others to reconcile with God for true peace.
Karen Whiting writes to inspire families to thrive and grow their faith. Her newest (thirty-third) book Growing a Peaceful Heart shares stories of how people live out peace in life, paired with tips on growing peace in your heart and world. Join her conversations on Growing a Mother’s Heart on Facebook.