Today my writing room is in Minnesota. I’m sitting on a couch with a cozy blanket, feet propped up and gazing out the front windows at a frozen lake layer with snow like icing on a cake. In the middle of the lake sits a lone ice fisherman next to his shanty. It doesn’t get anymore ‘northern exposure’ than this folks, nor more peaceful looking.
Peace. Peace perfect peace.
Peace on earth good will toward men. Isn’t that what the angel told the shepherds the night the Christ Child was born? Can you imagine? I can’t think of anything less peaceful than the night sky suddenly filling up with angels, especially if I’d never seen one before. Did their collective fluttering wings deafen like the swoosh of a field of giant windmills? Did it frighten the shepherds when the moon and stars were overtaken by their other-worldly brilliance? Did the movement of a multitude of wings stir up such a wind the shepherds could barely stay on their feet? Did their remarkable appearance frighten the sheep so badly the woolly creatures scattered in all directions? Not a peaceful scene in my mind’s eye. Yet, the heavenly hosts message was one of great hope and the greatest of all promises, peace, finally true peace had been ushered to the earth.
The shepherds hurried to the manager-side of the Christ Child, and no doubt the scene was peaceful but don’t you wonder if they were disappointed when the promised peace turned out to be just a baby? Not the peace they were expecting. While the arrival of the Child held great promise to those who believed, a jealous king wanted the child dead. No peace there. That child at age twelve worried his parents sick. No peace there either. When the Child grew into a man his teachings put people on edge. Not peaceful. Even after healing a blind man, some lepers, and the demon-possessed peace did not follow. And when the Child, now known as Jesus of Nazareth brought the dead back to life, the world around him went into a frenzy. They clambered for his death and eventually got it when he was nailed to a primitive cross. Where was the peace? The earth shook, boulders cracked in half, darkness fell over the earth and the temple curtain was torn from the top down by God’s own hand. “It is finished,” the Prince of Peace uttered as he took his last breath.
What happened to the promise of peace the heavenly hosts so grandly sang about so long ago? Were the shepherd’s duped?
As I sit here on the couch the sun has set. The stars are out. The moon has risen over the frozen lake. I hold my breath. Peaceful-looking is not peace itself. I believe Peace was indeed promised that fateful night when the shepherds bowed before the manger. However, what I’m still learning is there is peace and then there is the Peace that passes understanding. It was that Peace that was promised at His birth. The price of Peace was paid on the cross. The empty tomb sealed the deal. And one day, the heavenly gates will be opened and Peace will welcome us home. Peaceful-looking will finally merge with Perfect Peace and all will be well . . . just like it was promised one night long ago as wings swooshed and a new born’s cry drifted from a stable.
Blessed Christmas to you and yours,