Sermon – December 24, 2017
On the eve of the celebration of the birth of the Lord, we turn finally to speak about the peace that this child will bring us. The world is much confused about peace – viewing it typically as a trite statement about the absence of strife and war. But biblical peace is much more than that; it is a peace that outweighs personal circumstances and pursues good. As the angels announced to the shepherds just after Jesus’ birth, with the coming of this child there is good news of great joy – “peace on earth among those with whom he is pleased!” What is this peace, and how can we experience it?
1. True peace needs God’s glory
Peace doesn’t exist in the world, not because we aren’t smart enough, or because we have not spent enough time considering the universal brotherhood of all people, but because we haven’t sought the glory of God. But now, with the coming of Jesus, who is announced with prophecy and the singing of angelic armies, peace is available in the world because God’s glory has come to dwell with us.
2. True peace is God’s peace
This peace that is offered is also God’s peace to give to whom he desires. It is not a peace that we manufacture for ourselves, but one that must be found from God himself. It is not a lesson learned, or a means of living enacted in our lives. Rather, it is to be received as it is given: a pure gift from God. And it is to be understood in light of that gift: peace between God and you, not between you and the world.
3. True peace is God’s choice
Because it is a gift, not a wage earned or an experience bought, God is fully master over this peace. That means he gives it to whom he desires. For those who have received such favor, be warned: this is no source of pride but of humility. You have done nothing to gain such favor, and pride will always put you dangerously close to a fall. For those of you who perhaps are unsure if this favor lies upon you, there is a quick and easy way to tell: trust! Trust that this little child is indeed the King of Glory. Trust that this child will die to save you from your sins. Trust that this child is indeed God in the flesh, come to bring an end to the pain and frustration that so envelopes this world, and your life. Trust these things, and rest in peace.
The final conclusion from this advent season is this: what the bible has foretold, believe, and you can have a joy and peace that passes all understanding. This was all given to you in Christ Jesus, born in a stable, crucified by lawless men, risen with salvation. God is making all things good again, for those who trust in Christ and on whom his favor lies. May you Christmas be merry and bright, as the light of Christ shines upon you!