Editor’s Note: With so many churches in our area having to suspend worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, we are asking local pastors to partner with us in bringing a daily message of hope and comfort to readers during this difficult time.
Christmas 2020 arrives to a peace-impoverished world. Globally, nationally, socially, culturally and individually, peace is in short supply. The dominant mood is one of distress. COVID, cultural upheaval, political turmoil, economic struggle and social shutdown have filled many with despair. The temptation is to conclude that this year’s Christmas is spoiled, wrecked and ruined. Some even say it will be canceled like everything else. But could it be the opposite? Is it possible that Christmas 2020 can be the best ever, perhaps inspiring a great rebirth and rediscovery of peace?
On the First Christmas recorded by the Gospel of Luke, the Herald Angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE and goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14). The proclamation was pursuant to the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. His advent was God’s gift of peace to the world. Indeed, Scripture reveals Jesus to be “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). With His birth came the reality that peace is not so much the absence of war but the presence of God. And Jesus is God’s presence, as He is called “Emmanuel — God with us” (Isaiah 7:14/Matthew 1:23).
The peace Jesus offers is the healing agent of all enmities. Enmities alienate and all enmities have something to do with sin and brokenness at some level. People are left alienated from God, from each other, from life, and, often, from themselves. It is Jesus who offers the relational healing we all need. In Colossians 1:20, Paul says, “Through Christ God reconciles all things to Himself, having made PEACE through the Blood of His cross.”
The Biblical Christmas opens that reconciliation to all who would turn from worldly renditions to embrace the true meaning of God’s peace vested in Jesus. And those who do are afforded a quality and quantity of peace that transcend all others. In fact, the peace Jesus offers is His very own. As He said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives” (John 14:27). From the confinement and isolation of a Roman jail cell, Paul called it “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7). What a contrast was that peace to the context of his life.
What a contrast is that peace in the context to which Christmas 2020 arrives. Quarantining, distancing, masking, and canceling are collateral burdens to bear as per the COVID-19 epidemic, but the blessing of Christmas remains steadfast.
The question is often asked, “Are you in the Christmas Spirit?” But the better question would be, “Is the Christmas Spirit in you?” To be sure, it can be and is when Jesus resides within. In fellowship with Him, Christmas cannot be stolen by a Grinch, canceled by a Scrooge, or prevented by a virus: Christmas is kept in the heart.
Poet Kay Hoffman says it best: “We’ll leave behind the hurried pace of Christmas manmade style; And in the quiet of our hearts we’ll find the Holy Child.”
This Christmas, may Jesus’ birth within bring peace and comfort to one and all.
Ed Clevinger is minister of Grace Christian Church in Kingsport.