Words of Worth

What Do You Want for Christmas?

December 23, 2011

One of the most asked questions during the Christmas season is probably, “What do you want for Christmas?” My pat answer has always been “peace on earth” and more often than not I have received a glass globe ornament with a world map and the word “peace” etched on it. Those gifts were creative responses to my request and admittedly a world peace ornament was the best that anyone could do within their power to grant peace on earth. Peace on earth-something most of us have yet to experience in our lifetime.

It has always fascinated me to read about the series of Christmas truce ceasefires that took place around Christmas 1914, during the First World War. Supposedly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, German and British soldiers tore down their boundaries and mingled and exchanged food and gifts and some even played a game of football or two. In more recent times of war, it is not unusual to hear of, maybe not gift exchange, but at least of ceasefire on Christmas Day. Part of my fascination is that it causes me to wonder what could extend a truce, a moment of peace and humanity during the atrocity of war, into something more lasting.

In Isaiah’s prophesy about the coming Messiah, he says:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

In a world filled with war, violence, financial chaos, and broken relationships, it may be difficult to see how the infant Jesus could be the all-powerful peaceful God. However, physical safety and political harmony do not necessarily reflect the kind of peace that describes Jesus. The kind of peace that Jesus offers is so much more than the absence of war and so much longer than one single day.

The Hebrew word for peace, “shalom”, is often used in reference to calm and tranquility. But the deeper meaning of peace has to do with being restored with God. Jesus came to reconcile us to God, to bring peace between God and man by becoming the sacrificial lamb for our sins.

In our sinful state, we are enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are restored to a relationship of peace with God (Romans 5:1). This is the deep, abiding peace between our hearts and our Creator that cannot be taken away and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”

I am writing this while sitting in front of my Christmas tree staring at a peace on earth ornament. B101 radio is playing “Silent Night” while outside the hustle and bustle of last minute shopping is in full force. As I listen to the words of the carol, I am reminded that I still want peace for Christmas…peace on earth yes, but peace in my heart.

What do you want for Christmas? Why not ask the Prince of Peace, the holy infant, wrapped not in shiny paper but in swaddling rags of humanity, to lay His head in the straw of your heart? He is the Mighty God who has the power to offer peace that is not just a Christmas truce ceasefire for today, but an everlasting, heavenly peace. (sv)

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” John 14:27

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