December is upon us, only 22 days until Christmas! We are in our second week of advent focusing on Peace. Maybe you are like me, and when you read that you laughed a little. Peace, in December? What an idea! December is often a month of busy schedules, financial burdens, chaotic family gatherings, stressful gift buying, and the list goes on. Peace is often the opposite of what I think of when I think of December. This year that feels especially true. Christmas during a global pandemic does not sound peaceful, at least not at first thought.
I remember during a Kids’ Church lesson on peace a couple years ago asking the children, “what is peace?” The most common answer was, “peace and quiet!” (probably because they hear their parents saying this all the time). But, as almost every teacher will tell you, you can’t define a word by using the word. So I asked again, “what is peace?” This time the response came from a young girl no more than 6 years old and all she said was one word, “calm.” This is such a simplistic but true definition of peace. When I think of peace biblically the first verse that comes to mind is Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Don’t you want peace like that? Peace that passes all understanding! Have you ever felt this peace? When we think of peace we often think of a world without wars, or a time of silence and tranquility, or like the little girl from kids’ church said, a calmness. This peace that passes all understanding is even better than that! The peace that Paul speaks of in this passage is a peace amidst the chaos. It’s having peace even though the world around you is crumbling, even though work is stressful, even though your calendar is too full, even though you have a sick family member, even though you don’t know what’s going to happen you can still remain calm, you can still have peace. It is knowledge that God is in control and no matter what happens that will never change.
What does peace have to do with advent? Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). When God gifted us Jesus that first Christmas morning he gifted us peace embodied. Jesus was the greatest example of having peace that passes all understanding, all you have to do is look at how he responded to situations. When the boat was rocking in the storm, Jesus was sleeping. When Satan was tempting him, he responded with scripture. When he knew his friend was going to betray him, he prayed. When he was being killed he asked God to forgive his killers. Jesus is the embodiment of peace, no matter what situation he was in he remained calm, he had peace knowing that God was in control, knowing that the whole world would have peace one day. We, as Christians, have this same privilege. We have already been gifted the peace that passes understanding when we decided to give our lives to Christ. Paul even tells us in the scripture above how to get it. Don’t worry, pray about everything, say thank you to God, then you will experience His peace. Because of Christmas we can have peace in all things knowing that God is in control and that He always will be. Just like we have hope for an eternal life with God, we can have peace right now because we know the end of the story.
This Christmas will look different. Gatherings will be smaller, stores less crowded, children won’t be sitting on Santa’s knee, parades are being done backwards, parties are being cancelled. Chaos is being subdued. Maybe this Christmas will be more peaceful then any one before. I believe this Christmas is a gift! An opportunity to focus on the people most important in your life, an opportunity to forget the expensive presents, an opportunity to remember the simplicity of that first Christmas in the stable with only a few animals, a mom, a dad, and a baby boy. An opportunity to embrace the hope and peace that we have because of Jesus.
If you are feeling worried or stressed about anything, take some time to pray, ask God for help but also thank Him for everything he has done and you too can experience the peace that passes all understanding.