My eyelids were closing.
“Are you up?” my son whispered through the crack at my bedroom door.
Any parent of a teen recognizes this phrase as the I-need-to-talk signal. It almost never comes when I’m fresh in the morning, or after dinner. The invitation comes when I’m spent.
Wisely, I replied, “Sure. What’s up?” and there on my bed a tale begins to unfold through the chink in the aloof adolescent facade. A heart-journey with twists down dirt trails with me following in search of clarity. (I get that way when I’m tired.) The ins and outs of the story start accumulating, revealing what’s hidden. Grateful for polysyllabic communication, I’m now wide awake.
The story had been told along the paths and around life events since the beginning. Waiting children of Abraham knew the details well. On the night God worked his way through the birth canal, no one needed more of the story. They, we, needed his heart.
The heavenly host wasted no time. No declaration of histories and prophecies– just his heart:
Glory to God in the highest
And on earth peace among those with whom he is well pleased. Luke 2:14
God’s glory and man’s peace. The essence of Immanuel.
God shrouded himself in mortal flesh and blood, fitted his immense omnipresence into an infant that opened a virgin’s womb, for the two foundational aspects of the universe that were compromised when the first Adam let sin into the Garden.
Adam and Eve exchanged God’s glory for their own superiority, and their peace evaporated before the first swallow of the forbidden fruit.
And there was no going back.
The quest for peace began in the Garden. Adam and Eve knew true peace– which made the loss that much more heart-breaking.
But there was going forward.
Jesus’ birth announcement was that much more wonderful because of what had been lost! PEACE has returned!
What is peace?
The Greek word in this passage, eirene means: one, peace, quietness, rest, set at one again.(1) The comparable word in the Old Testament, shalom, has a similar meaning: peace, completeness, prosperity, and welfare...well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group. (2) Well-being and wholeness show up in all the resources I consulted.
This is the peace declared by the angels when Messiah entered into humanity– restoration of what was destroyed in the Garden, God’s heart-intention revealed.
At the birth of God’s Son, heaven could no longer contain the message, giving the shepherds who heard the heavenly host (and us) God’s clear meaning immediately. God’s Christmas gift to the world is shalom peace. Not the kind the world gives, dependent on the intentions of a corrupted world, but perfect peace given by our flawless Creator who is Shalom Peace.
This is the same peace Jesus prayed for his disciples before he went out to the cross, what he left with his disciples.
Peace was his gift as he came into the world and when he went out of it. The journey toward God leads down the trail to his heart, our Peace.
READY FOR SUNDAY
The craziness that is the Western Christmas season can be anything but peaceful – especially for church worship leaders and teams. What does his declaration of peace mean in our context? How can I have this peace amidst the added rehearsals and productions that are performed to share this peace with the world?
Perhaps more than any other time of the year, making time to spend with our Peace, our Savior, is crucial to our interaction with Him… and with the people who are also harried whom we lead in worshiping our Peace.
There is more at stake here than we realize.
1. Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, 1515. εἰρήνη ĕirēnē.
2. Wikipedia “Shalom“.