Christmas Trad Arr. Part 2: Peace
On Sunday 9th December we continued our Christmas series.
In this blog you will find a summary of the talk.
To listen to the talk, please click here.
We are continuing our Advent series. Last time hope this time Peace.
Peace is for life not just for Christmas; it is God’s way of living
PEACE: Dictionary definitions.
“A state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended. lawfulness, order, peacefulness, harmony, accord, goodwill, friendship, cordiality, non-aggression, non-violence.
“Freedom from disturbance; tranquillity. E.g. "He just wanted to drink a few beers in peace" calm, restfulness, peace and quiet, peacefulness, quietness, silence, hush, noiselessness, stillness.”
The word we translate as peace comes from the Hebrew word Shalom which means; Peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity.
At the time of Jesus birth the nation was under Roman occupation and the Romans regarded peace not as an absence of war, but “the rare situation which existed when all opponents had been beaten down and lost the ability to resist”.
What peace means to you can depend on your context. War, anxiety, illness, problems, chaos.
The Christmas story is full of the promise of Peace. You can read this by clicking here.
The word redemption speaks of a cost. When items are bought back. Jesus paid the price to redeem us.
The horn of salvation signifies strength
Zechariahs song speaks of being saved from their enemies and all who hate them. His context: Roman occupation; Pax Romana Roman Peace
These people experienced unspeakable cruelty under Roman occupation.
The song goes on to speak of being able to serve God without fear. Their religious freedom was under the scrutiny and control of the roman occupiers, a bit like the church in many communist countries in the past.
The temple had also been defiled with a pig being sacrificed on the altar.
The song speaks prophetically of John the Baptist who will prepare the way for salvation from Jesus.
John the Baptist shook the people out of complacency and enabled them to see themselves clearly. He preached repentance and baptism.
Jesus is described as a sun rising on the nation to shine light on the people and guide their feet into the path of peace. The path of peace suggests a WALK, a journey. It does not come instantly. It is a learnt way.
Peace started with peace with God through Jesus redemption. It comes as we see ourselves as we are; flawed but deeply loved and forgiven. This helps us to see others in relation to that.
Jesus was born into an occupied country with real and violent enemies. Crucifixion was not rare. The expectation was for the Messiah to lead an uprising to bring them peace. But instead Jesus spoke of a better way of self-sacrifice, love and forgiveness. He was crucified by the Romans, died, and rose. The long term affect more powerful than an army.
Peace is for life not just for Christmas. It is God’s way of living
The romans were not defeated by an army, but by the gospel. Eventually they adopted the Christian faith. The Jewish people got their freedom but not from raising an army. It was through Christians demonstrating love and faith. The way of peace is not easy, it is not obvious and it doesn’t come naturally.
There is a famous story about a miracle that occurred on Christmas day during the first world was. The German soldiers began singing Silent Night and the British soldiers joined in. Soon and carefully they emerged from the trenches and spent time together playing football, exchanging a few gifts, sharing photos and their lives with each other. They acted as friends not enemies that recognised the humanity in each other and responded to it. For 1 day they were touched by the way of peace. The young men had fun and shared their lives. Sadly they returned to the trenches and to the slaughter. It is tragic that they could not maintain that peace. Peace on Earth was again shattered and lives destroyed.
Peace is for life not just for Christmas. It is God’s way of living.
The peace that we desire depends on our context. We are not living in a war torn country. We may have family, worries, work anxiety, difficult relationships, but whatever disrupts our peace Jesus calls us to walk the path of Peace. We must not fight evil with evil, pain with pain, but emulate the Jesus way of love, compassion and forgiveness.
1. What would peace look like to you at this time and in your context?
2. Over 2000 years ago the angels proclaimed peace on earth, it feels to me as if we are still waiting, why do you think that is?
3. What would it look like for Jesus to “… guide (your) feet into the path of peace”?
4. Think of different contexts around the world especially countries torn by war or natural disasters. What do you think peace would mean to them in their context?
5. In the gospels we read of a few incidents where Jesus came into contact with the some of the Romans. List them and think about how Jesus acted towards them, how he spoke to them etc. what can we learn from this?
6. A disciple does what their Rabbi does. If you were asked to fight in a war what should you do and why? What feels right and natural? What would Jesus do?
7. What are the steps that you will take as a result of this study?