I love the opportunities we have around Christmas to pause and maybe even sing about the birth of Christ with others. It is nice to slow down and reflect. These moments when we can detach from the craziness of everything else, of schedules and difficult situations, just to rest, the experience the calm that this night seems to promise. It is a taste of the peace that we all desire so much.
To have everything right in the world, to have some quiet. To experience only love and harmony with others. That for just a moment to have nothing stirring, not even a mouse… There is something to that desire. This longing for peace. Most of the time we can subdue it and convince ourselves that since it can’t be had we should settle for less. And like a light in the distance, it remains, twinkling and calling us to see it.
Truth is, there isn’t much peace in our world. Many other words come to mind long before peace to describe our lives… scattered, busy, chaotic, full of noise. Sure we see it in the news but we also live it everyday. The lines in stores, the tensions at work, the broken relationships.
And this is exactly what Jesus entered into to bring good news of great joy. He invaded the noise, for you.
The world of these Scriptures was not all that different from our own. Violence, polarizing politics, the struggles of life, work to be done. Even in the story of this birth we see an invasion into the noise of life.
Here are Joseph and Mary. The young couple preparing for a life together who have had great promises whispered in their ears by angels. But life still happens and they can’t avoid it, they have to go to Bethlehem. The extraordinary work of God and the ordinary business of living under Roman occupation ran in tandem.
With a belly ready to burst, Mary finds herself far from home, in the unknown only looking for a place to sleep when “the time came for her to give birth.”
The shepherds are working in the fields, getting through another day of labor, when they are are invited not out of fear but in peace, to celebrate the arrival of the promised One. Who they seek out and rejoice over.
The wise men are waiting and watching for signs when something new appears. Something worth dropping everything and seeing for themselves.
Normal lives, radically changed in a moment. As it is for us.
Jesus comes to you in the pain, in the heartache, in the unknown, in the ordinary. He comes into your hard relationships, into the long lines, into our insecurity and fear. And he speaks a different word to you, a word of salvation that resounds over the noise.
Jesus was birthed into your mess so that he could take it with him to the cross. And this is the good news of great joy for all people. The forgiveness of sin. The correction of the corruption of creation, the promise of peace.
The same news that Mary treasured, that sent the Shepherds out glorifying, that called to the Wise Men, is ours today. A savior is born, to take away the sins of the world to bring peace once and for all.
To receive the good news of the gospel is to come to understand that, despite our mess and failures, despite the noise of our lives, God reaches out to us with the loving message of peace. Receiving the gospel is not just understanding an abstract idea but it is believing by faith that the glorious God of the universe is now pleased with us and speaks peace into our personal lives. The result is release from fear and entry into freedom, joy, and an eager seeking after this Lord.
This is Christmas for us. The breaking forth of the Savior King. Coming into our experience to wake us to the unimaginable reality of a God who loves you. Loves us so much that he will sacrifice himself to give us peace.