Photo by: SuadaPhoto
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight. . .”
“The Christmas Song” by Mel Torme and Bob Wells
It’s an American Christmas song, a peaceful, comfortable tune, and every year my husband, the Nat King Cole enthusiast, sang it from November through December. After a while, even our babies were singing it! But the first Christmas song (which may have been spoken) had a different message:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace. . .”
Peace. After seeing the infant Jesus, the shepherds “went back to the fields, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. . .” I wonder if they kept that sense of awe through the hard years of the rest of their lives? Through cold nights and hot days; through hunger and danger; through injury and loss? And was their peace shattered when the Prince of Peace was nailed to a Roman cross, proving that the world was still a dark and dangerous place?
Almost two thousand years later, we still crave peace — especially at Christmas (which sometimes doesn’t live up to our expectations). Absences, insufficiencies, partings and hardships mar what should be a joy-filled holy day, leaving us disheartened and dissatisfied. We think, “It shouldn’t be like this.” And, in a sense, we’re right. The picture perfect peace we cried out for never arrived, and we are left with a sad substitute, riddled with holes, hanging by a thread.
But, what if we’re mistaken in conflating worldly comfort and peace? What if God’s peace doesn’t necessarily produce loving family gatherings, home for the holidays, and gift exchange? Although these are good and lovely things, I think we have been programmed to believe they represent the peace angels announced so long ago— a peace that had to do with connection rather than comfort.
Jesus came! Then He left. And we remain in this sin-dark, peace-poor world, understandably mourning what is missing. It is to our detriment however, when we allow grief to obscure the gift— a gift meant to inject inextinguishable joy and hope into our darkness. With the advent of Immanuel, we acquired access to a different kind of peace. We may be stuck here, but He is with us. A change is coming and already is because:
Our Savior was born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord!
photo by: Grayson Joralemon