Few of us buy or send Christmas cards nowadays.
But many of us will remember having our houses decorated with strings of cards in the living room and on our mantelpieces. Scenes of three wise men following the star leading to the Christ Child, shepherds watching their flocks and gazing up at the angelic choir as they sing “peace on earth and good will to all men with whom He is pleased.” And the baby lying in a manger surrounded by a donkey and a couple of sheep.
So much of Jesus’ ministry is about peace. To his disciples he said, “My peace I leave with you” (John 14”27). “For unto us a child is born…and his name shall be called wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,” Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace ”(Isaiah 9:6). In most of Paul’s letters to the early churches, he talks about peace. “And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:7).
Jesus also said some things quite contradictory. “Do you think I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you but rather division” (Luke 12:51). “The way to peace they do not know” (Isaiah 59:8).
And what are we seeing in the world today? Division, strife, wars, corruption ,crime, hate speech – anything but peace. And at Christmas time it gets much worse. Robberies, hijackings, murders, road accidents all seem to increase during the month of December. What did Jesus mean when he spoke about peace?
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he lists peace among the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (5:22). This Spirit was given to those who followed Jesus, those who believed in him and obeyed him. Of all who heard Jesus and witnessed those many miracles, relatively few remained together on the day of Pentecost. It was these and others converted by Peter’s sermon that day who received the Holy Spirit and who understood what peace was about.
As Christians today and ambassadors for Christ, we are called to be “ pockets of peace” around the world until the Prince of Peace returns. In the meantime we can truly celebrate the birth of the Saviour with great joy, even if there’s not a Christmas card in sight.