Peace what Peace?
St Mary's Comberton, Midnight service for Christmas 2007
Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-14
<<Jesus is not a glorified UN Secretary General but the spouse we rejected coming in peace>>
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us and he is named... The Prince of Peace.”
As you walk out into the crisp air tonight, gazing up at the stars with the music of the carols still dancing through your soul – maybe it will be possible to convince yourself that all is well with the world.
But we know, don't we, that when we awake from your slumber tomorrow morning, the radio will bring news of war and cruelty, not peace – even on Christmas day: Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Zimbabwe...
We've just sung how the angels joyful proclamation did not usher in an age of World Peace.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife,
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angels' strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
So what then did the angels mean as they sang for the shepherds?
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours.”
Another carol can give us a clue:-
Hark the herald-angels sing
Glory to the new born king
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
What the Bible says is wrong with the world is not PRIMARILY that we can't get on with one another.
But that we can't get on with God.
Rather listen to our iPod than to the living God.
You might think that ridiculous.
Look at the shepherds, look at the wise men!
What did we do to him? Listened for a while, marvelled, but ultimately rejected. Crucified.
Lest we think we would do better
Not one of his disciples stuck by him.
Wonderful mystery – in coming to earth – God proved his faithfulness has no limits.
Love. Not just words – words made flesh. Faithful even to death.
The Bible can be read as a love story. God who loves his people dearly.
They have brief flirtations with him, but are ultimately unfaithful.
When the angels sang about peace.
Jesus not UN secretary general – talks, treaties and peacekeeping forces.
A marriage partner - other partner has stormed off in a rage – shacked up with someone else.
Willing to do anything to make peace, to heal the damaged relationship.
Col 1:21-22 (CEV)
“You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things. But his Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are faultless and innocent.”
2 Cor 5v19 (CEV)
“What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace.”
Story from The heart of Christmas (Chris Leonard) p78 – Palestinian christians.
So as you walk out into the crisp air tonight gaze up at the stars – the human race still wars over this planet that God created – still laughs at God's ways.
But as the music of the carols dances through your soul – reminded that God is at work reconciling this world to himself.
That work began in a cowshed in Bethlehem.
Arm --> love and peace.
Will you take his hand and join him?