Living in a world of instant access to events and circumstances being played out around the globe creates for all of us, from time to time, a sense of being overwhelmed by tragedy and injustice. As we witnessed the live coverage of the atrocities in Martin Place, Sydney few were left without a sense of helplessness and, for some, hopelessness. As we watched we were aware that individuals, living out their normal day, had encountered an uncontrolled evil. The end was that our fears were realised and emotions validated. We were helpless to respond, and for the families of the victims their hopes were meaningless. Within days, we were all confronted with the news from Cairns that something had gone horribly wrong, and the unthinkable had happened. A mother murders her seven children and niece. Again evil has triumphed and helplessness has reigned. In the middle of those horrible events comes the news from Peshawar, Pakistan that evil without limit has descended upon a school and more than 140 are massacred. We reach the point where the helplessness can be so overwhelming that the only thing that can be done is to stop listening.
I had planned some weeks ago that on this Sunday I would write about peace. Peace for me is the other great theme of Christmas. Of course, the themes of hope and joy should certainly not be forgotten, and even in the context of what I write today are applicable. But for me the two themes that resonate most are the themes of love and peace. Last week I wrote of God’s love –witnessed as he stepped into the world –a love that includes me personally. When I think of “peace” however, I am immediately confronted by the reality that we do not live in a world of peace, even after two thousand years of the reality of His story being known. Can I truly celebrate Christmas, with its theme of peace, in any other way but by ignoring the reality of what I know to be true around the world?
There are two important issues to keep in mind at this point. God’s peace is relational, and His peace is realised in our presence in the world. There will come a day where we will see God’s peace reigning – that is the message of hope. It will not be a peace that comes by the overwhelming of all opposition and the establishment of a religious state based on control, as motivates some. It will be a peace that is established by the realisation of his love among all humanity. However, until that day, His peace is to be made known by those that have experienced His love. By being people that live in the ever present reality of relationship with Him we become people of peace. Peace with ourselves and peace with others – that is the message of joy. One of the most compelling evidences of genuine relationship with God is the absence of a need to control and change others, but an overwhelming need to love and value. That has been the reality of God’s people from the time of Christ’s birth until the time of His coming again. This peace is not the “fixing’ of the problems of the world it is the ever present movement from hopelessness to hope.
This Christmas we need to remember we are not asked to simply experience peace we are called to be peace.
To think about these things a little deeper check out my video at: