What follows is an edited version of my meditation for Christmas eve worship.
Jesus is the “prince of peace”
Now Biblical “peace” is an interesting concept. It is not the “absence of war.” It is also more than the “presence of justice.” The peace Jesus brings is “Shalom.”
Now, shalom is a fascinating and deep concept, which can be distilled down to one sentence, but it hardly does the notion justice. “Shalom” refers to all things in Creation living righteously, one to and another and with God.
“Righteous” doesn’t mean “goody two-shoes” or “pretensious” or “snob.” It simply refers to people being in right relationships. That is, relationships which spread life and light and joy. And as we look at the world today, It’s impossible to deny righteousness is what we need right now.
The trapped civilians of Aleppo, caught in middle of a horrific war, break our hearts.
The terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market reminds us some people only feel rage at another’s joy.
We see the rise of demagogues around the world, flexing muscle to see how mighty they are. These are people who live under the delusion war is a good thing.
Here at home we see serious racial, economic, political divides driving a wedge between the regions which make up our country.
In a world such as this Christians are needed. Not to rule, but to serve. We are needed to be those who demonstrate what being a people of shalom looks like.
Where there is endless violence, we work for those caught in the crossfire.
Where ideological hatred raises it’s head, we counter with the greater Kingdom powers of compassion and grace.
When demagogues are celebrated as being “great,” we respond with one of the most powerful of Kingdom virtues, humility.
Where we see signs of civil divides and unrest, we work to bridge communities and strive to bring people together.
Why do we do this? Because Jesus is “Emmanuel.” He is literally “God with us.”
The actions we are called to undertake in response to the evils done in this world are not new. They are what Jesus has already done for us. We’re just passing them on.
So may we, who claim to be Jesus’ disciples, live as though Jesus really has saved us from our sins.
Yes we know we are a flawed, weak, and broken people. But that’s the point. We can’t do these things, but we do them anyway. The truth is, we are striving forward with the light solely by the power of the Holy Spirit. God does this in us. If we could do it all ourselves, there’s no point to the “babe in the manger.”
And so, may the Prince of peace live in us, through us, and around us. And may the kingdom of the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, be our first and final allegiance. Because the infant Jesus has grown up, and is now and forevermore the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
So, in a world which pursues so many destructive endeavors, let us stand with him and strive for his peace. In this way we declare to the whole of Creation a very Merry Christmas. Amen.