“Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” Luke 2:13-14
The shepherds gathered in the field that first Christmas night saw an amazing manifestation of the heavenly host. God said to them, “I bring you peace”, so the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem.
And when they arrived they saw… a family.
God’s peace is beyond understanding. When all of your external circumstances are in turmoil, you can find on the inside of you a deep internal peace that speaks of the invisible Kingdom of God.
In their day Mary and Joseph were caught up in the busyness of the season; Mary was pregnant when they had to travel to register for the census, which most likely coincided with one of the Jewish festivals. There are many similarities with our lives, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas!
It was a time of rising costs; the census that they were registering for was to number and organise the population, but it was also about raising taxes. There was also dissatisfaction with the government – the people had returned from exile but were still not free and at this time were bent under the weight of the Roman occupation.
In the middle of these circumstances, like the calm in the eye of a storm, came God’s peace.
We can receive his peace in the middle of pain and disappointment, because it is not dependent on our circumstances. The true peace on earth is the peace that passes all understanding. It comes from heaven and arrived in the form of a baby.
The peace that God brings flourishes in the midst of simplicity. Our lives can be extremely complicated, but it is often the simple things that we appreciate and value – small children smiling, or sharing a meal with our loved ones.
Mary demonstrates simplicity of spirit. She responded to the mind-blowing news that she was going to have a child who was the Son of God with a simple question, “How can this be?” And when the angel Gabriel explained, she simply said, “OK, let it be so, according to your word.” That principle will take you through the most difficult times; knowing that if God has spoken then you can yield to his word with confidence.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the ‘peace-child’, let us glorify God in the certain knowledge that his peace and goodwill covers the earth!