Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
It is a few years since I first heard my favourite band Over The Rhine sing Another Christmas...
“I hope that we can still believe
The Christ child holds a gift for us
Are we able to receive
Peace on earth this Christmas”
Immediately I heard it. Something went off deep within me.
“Peace on earth this Christmas”, struck a chord as loud as any Jimmy Page strum and as spiritually powerful as an Old Testament prophet or actually a New Testament angel on the night God came to earth!
“Peace, Steve, Peace” is what my soul kept repeating. It is not about justice or vengeance, it is not about proving who was right or wrong. It is not about us and them and us winning. The point of this mission that God had in coming to earth was peace.
Peace is one of the Bible’s big themes. Shalom. The well being of the world. It is a holistic word like the Greek word for salvation which means wholeness. As Jeremiah put it to those in exile, “Also, seek the the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it propers, you too will prosper.”
The Zondervan NIV Commentary Bible defines this word peace, as the angels sing it, in three ways; personal peace, material peace and political peace. It could be marvellously paraphrased as changing lives, transforming communities and building hope.
Whatever way we describe it, it should be the priority of the followers of the baby. Interrupting the war with the grace of peace; reconcile... build schools… dig water wells… share the Good News of the Gospel.