Based On: Luke 2:13-14
The shepherds were doing what they did every night – watching the sheep. The night was quiet and peaceful as a single angel told them Christ was born in Bethlehem. Suddenly thousands of angels, if not tens of thousands, broke the peace of that night and sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” The Christ child came and the angels proclaim that there is now peace. As I look around I don’t see much peace in this world. Where is this peace?
It has been 2000 years since the Christ child was born and the angels announced “peace” but there have been no shortage of wars since that time. Still in recent memory are Iraq (two times), Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia, Vietnam, Korea, and the World Wars, and the list could continue. How can this be? The angels said there was peace now that Jesus had been born. Yet, Christ, the Prince of Peace, said that in these last days there would be “wars and rumors of wars” and that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” If this isn’t the peace the angels were talking about, where is there peace?
While nations continue to oppose each other the same is true on a personal level. Ever since Cain and Abel there has been plenty of hate in this world, even toward Christians. When Christians teach as this Christ child did – saying that he is the only way to have eternal life and the teachings of the Moslem, Hindu, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses will only lead you to hell – then they are labeled as arrogant and unloving, “how dare you condemn what these sincere people believe! How dare you not be at peace with them.”
Also among Christians there is strife. Perhaps you have heard someone ask, “Why don’t you let me take communion at your church?” They don’t understand that our practice of close communion is not a judgment on their faith but an appeal that they learn more about what we teach before they show they agree with what we teach by joining us in the Lord’s Supper. As a Christian we see strife and conflict, but this is all just as that baby, visited by the shepherds, would one day promise. He said, “All men will hate you because of me” and, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’” Where is peace?
Well then, it must be here – at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 221 Walnut Street in Sleepy Eye, right? Peace at last. A place where there are no quarrels, nobody holds a grudge against anyone else, and no one ever thinks of avoiding someone else they just don’t like. . . . That wasn’t a completely accurate statement was it? Perhaps there is not always peace between us either. It is true. We are sinful people and our Lord Jesus needs to look at us just as he once looked at his disciple, Peter, and say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Where, then, is there peace?
We can find peace by listening again to what the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Where is this peace? This peace is to men – to us – and we have this peace because God’s favor rests on us. How is it that God’s favor rests on us? It is only through the work of this Christ child who lay peacefully in the manger. This is the peace the angels were singing about and this peace is between the Almighty Creator of the universe and us.
God secured this peace with us because we were not willing to make peace with him. This is how God did it. He became a human being to make peace with human beings. Just as the angel told the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” This newborn baby in Bethlehem is the Lord himself. He is both God and man and he came to make peace with us. He did it all. He drew up the peace treaty, he signed it, and he carried out all the terms of this agreement. He gives you this peace. It is as close as God’s Word. It is as close as your baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
This peace is a more precious peace than any peace we could have with our fellow human beings on this earth. This peace means that all the times we waged war against others and against God have been forgiven. This peace means that one day we will enjoy the peace of heaven. This peace means that we can have peace with one another as well.
This baby that the shepherds went to see and the angels sang about was the true peacemaker. Because we know that we have peace with our God, we can be at peace even when the world hates us or wars rage around us.
Remember what happened after Jesus died on the cross. The disciples locked themselves in a room. They were terrified that they would be executed next. Christ came to them and what did he say? “Peace be with you.” In spite of all that was going on around them, the disciples had peace. The same is true for us. Christ rose from the dead and defeated everything that wages war against us. We do not need to fear the world’s persecution or the hatred and wars around us. We do not need to fear death. We know where our peace is. The Christ child did bring peace just as the angels said.