Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. During this time, we receive cards and hear songs about “peace on earth good will toward man.” In fact, when the angels heralded the birth of Jesus they said, “And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.’” ~Luke 2:12-14
Christmas is supposed to be a time when we see people caring for and thinking more of others than themselves; a time of kindness and giving. It should be a time when families and friends gather and celebrate. It should represent a time of peace and hope. However, over the years, it has become as much about getting as it is giving and rather than the act of bringing joy and peace, it often brings stress and anxiety. Many people feel anything but peace during this time. Over the last several decades many of the traditional celebrations of Christ’s birth by Christians have been attacked and regarded as being offensive rather than representing life and peace.
I read an article about peace during the time of WWI when a cease fire happened on both fronts at noon on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t something that was decided by the military leaders, it was decided by the men in the trenches. In their hearts they wanted to observe one evening of peace. Christmas in the U.S. during the post war years between 1946 and 1964 reflected a period of peace, prosperity and productivity.
Today, peace seems to be more elusive than ever, whether it be peace within families, peace within churches, peace within organizations, or peace both within countries and between countries. There is turmoil and destruction in all of our major cities and even in some rural areas. This year has definitely been a year of anger, frustration and people attacking each other, both verbally and physically. If you listen to the news or get on social media, people are very opinionated and mean. People have chosen to have confrontations instead of conversations, conflict instead of peace. Sometimes the hardest place to find peace is within our own hearts.
So, what happened to the peace that this season is suppose to represent? How do we find a measure of peace again in our country?
I believe there will always be turmoil and wars, arguments and disagreements. However, peace starts from within. Until we can find peace in our own hearts, we will not be at peace with others. So, how do we find inner peace? The major thing that takes away anyone’s peace is fear. So many people are living in fear during this time: fear of sickness, fear of being in need, fear of losing people they love, their livelihoods, their belongings; fear of loneliness, fear of being out of control. Well guess what! We are not in control over any number of things that might happen in our lives. Peace can only come when we realize that there is one more powerful than any person or circumstance—someone who loves us and is working in our lives—someone who does have complete control! That’s the peace message of Christmas! God sent His Son to this earth so that we could be reconciled to Him and know how very much He loves us. That is the only peace that is lasting regardless of our circumstances, which are constantly changing. When we have this peace and security in our own hearts, then we can reach out to others in peace, with a heart of giving, not expecting; with a heart of love, not need; with a heart of forgiveness, not anger.
How can you have peace and promote peace? Here are a few strategies:
– Be aware of the things or feelings that disrupt your own peace.
– Think about how peace would change your life.
– Consider how you can let go of some of the fears that plague your life.
– Understand that you have no control of what others do, but that you can choose peace in your own life.
– Make every effort to be at peace with others.
– Be willing to not try to control every situation.
– Teach your children how to get along with others.
– Have a generous heart this Christmas. That doesn’t mean spending a lot of money, but being generous with your time and your love.
– Check out Jesus – He came to bring ultimate peace – personal peace.
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” ~2 Thessalonians 3:16
“For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” ~Ephesians 2:14
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