Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas Day: “You shall be led forth with peace”

“You shall be led forth with peace”

How might we understand being led forth with peace on this day as we come to celebrate Jesus birth?  What peace can we find within the story of Jesus coming among us?

So often when we think of the narrative of Jesus’ birth we think of it in childish ways but John’s account of
the Word being made flesh with its ancient and alien images confronts us with the idea that something bigger is going on here.

What sort of world does the Word come into?  What sort of world is Jesus born into?

John tells us from the outset of his gospel what sort of world it is: it is a world that does not know its maker and a world in which we find conflict.
Photo Kudaker flickr Creative commons

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.”

In these words we hear that live in a world where peace seems to be a pipe dream; to be something beyond us.

We are not at peace with the one who made us and we are not at peace with one another.

Last week I listened to an aid worker who been working with the hundreds of thousands of displaced people on the borders of Syria.

The outworking of our lack of peace is palpable.  The inability of people to love one another results in such tragic scenes as hear coming out of the Syrian refugee camps.

As we cover our trees in tinsel and our houses with lights, we also block the asylum seekers at our borders, billions of people long for the basic necessities of life.  Our festivities may bring us joy but peace for all who God love, no.

It is easy to distance ourselves from global affairs and the difficulties of many closer to home at Christmas until we remember those fateful words “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” 

Civil war, broken relationships, tensions, mourning, and illness all hang as spectres lurking beneath the surface of our celebrations.

How can we be led forth with peace?  Not just a personal sense of peace but a peace which encompasses all people everywhere, a peace which speaks of  bigger more wholesome hope.

The clue is in the narrative “he came”, “the Word became flesh”!  Instead of remaining aloof from the problems of the world and its opposition to God and our opposition to one another “he came”, “the Word became flesh”.

God enters into the midst of our lack peace and God shares in the experience of life.

The world did not know him but he came anyway.  Jesus came to what was his own, even though they did not know him.  Jesus was a refugee, an outcast, a political and religious troublemaker, he associated with the prostitutes and tax collectors, he searched and served among the least and the lost.

And he knew what it meant to enter into the space where peace seems a forlorn hope: he endured suffering and degradation and the cross.

If there is any sense of peace that we can find this today it is not in a Santa Clause God who simple gives us random gifts but a God who shares the fullness of life and when it is done says that the lack peace, the absence of hope is not all there is for Jesus rose again from the grave.

If we are to be led forth with peace on this day, if we have anything to say to the world, it is that God does not shun the disputes of our lives but shares in the suffering and recreates them in and through Jesus, the Word made flesh, a vulnerable and innocent and tiny child.

Whether you have a sense of peace in your own life and relationships on this day the hope of “the Word made flesh” is a hope which transcends our current lives and says there is more.

May God bless and enrich not only we who are privileged enough to be here this day but peoples everywhere this Christmas!

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