Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"peace on earth and mercy mild . . ."

"glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
(luke 2.14 tniv)

i don't know what christmas is like for you but "peace" is not the first word that comes to mind when i think of christmas. just as an example, bill brought up the christmas tree and all our christmas boxes tonight while i was finishing up supper. he left the girls alone with them while he went to lock up the storage area. in that short space of time, i heard "stop it!" "no! i want to do it." "no! you can't!" i walked down the hall to stop the fight before cherished items were broken. did someone say "peace"?

as i thought about the concept of peace for this reflection, i found myself getting more and more confused. just what kind of "peace" did the birth of Jesus bring? was it a feeling of rest and contentment? were we no longer going to fight, argue or go to war? would our minds stop whirling and twirling with crazy thoughts and cycles of near-insanity? (or maybe that's just me...) if this was the intention, i don't think Jesus' birth accomplished its purpose (particularly in the area of my brain).

obviously i needed to do a little more research. guess what i found? i used my favorite theological dictionary and learned something that seemed obvious to the dictionary's editors but was rather a surprise to me. peace is basically another word for salvation in both the old testament and the new testament. we may have a tendency to think of peace as something inward, whether something we achieve with God's help or some state we strive to achieve through meditation or some other mental exercise. in fact, most uses of the word "peace" in the old testament refer to a group, rather than an individual. this is the way that luke uses it here. Jesus' birth means peace or salvation has come to earth.

the glory of God in heaven and the peace on earth are connected. this is a kind of poetic parallelism. there is glory for God in heaven because there is peace or salvation for humanity on earth. those who are recipients of God's sovereign and gracious good pleasure will experience this salvation.

as much as i long for a peaceful household with kids who never argue, i am thankful that the Jesus was born to bring us salvation. i can't think of a better gift that God could have given us.

for the kids: ask your kids to imagine being lost in the store without knowing where to find you (maybe this has been an actual experience for them). what would/did it feel like to be so lost? what would it take for you to find them? when Jesus came to earth as a baby, he came to rescue those who were lost; he brought salvation. let them come up with implications for being "found" by Jesus. for a project, use a paper doily to make a lacy dove, a symbol for peace. if you want to include the element of salvation, you could cut out a small cross to put in the dove's beak.

1 comment:

KAA said...

This idea of peace=salvation really connects to something I noticed in the previous...The Message translates Prince of Peace to Prince of Wholeness. Thinking about salvation as wholeness is so profound.