given on the fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2015
Scripture references: Micah 5:2-5a (from the Common Lectionary)
A Ruler from Bethlehem
2 [a]But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
3 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
4 And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
5aAnd he will be the source of peace.
The last Sunday of Advent and the calendar shows that we are speeding toward Christmas Day. Our human nature finds us in a frenzy as we finish up the shopping and the meal preparations. The house gets a cleaning, and the bags may even need packing for the journey to Grandma’s house. Peace is not an appropriate descriptor many might use to describe how they feel.
In the midst of chaos, peace is elusive. Yet, the coming of Christ was to bring peace to God’s people. Has Christ provided you peace? Have you shared the Christmas story with others providing them a sense of peace? Are you an angel of peace?
During the past four weeks, the scriptures have shared the story of the Israelites who were no longer living according to God’s law. The trials and tribulations of the people had eroded their relationship with God. And despite all of God’s attempts to tell the people how to live out their faith and to remain loyal to God, the people did not hear his message.
When people do not hear God, he sent messengers—he even sent angels. Today, do we hear God’s message? Are we aware of the messengers that do all they can to make sure that you know that loving God with all your heart will bring you peace?
Compare our lives today to those of the Israelites. The world remains infested with evil. Greed overpowers even the richest businessmen are out of control wanting more and more. Decisions are made based on dollars not on what is best for the humans, but what is best for the profit margin.
How can a world find peace in the midst of this mindset? It takes angels of peace. Certainly heavenly angels are trying their best to alert us to our sad state of Christian affairs. Many of us had parents who did their best to teach us the Golden Rule. They were real life angels present in our lives doing all they could to provide us peace.
Of course peace is defined in our minds two different ways. First, we think of peace among the nations. Our world continues to struggle with peace among the nations and now we have trouble identifying the source of conflict because it is no longer defined by political boundaries.
Now conflict is found between ideologies. The geographical and political boundaries no longer contain the conflict because the worldwide web has erased identifiable locations of conflict. How does God’s world find peace when armies cannot defend one another from such conflicts?
The answer comes from God himself: Love one another as one wants to be loved. God knew that the Law of Moses was too complicated, too inflexible, and the people needed peace. To live in peace, even the slaves, God had sent angels. He had even had prophets warning the people to follow the law, and finally prophets shared the message that a ruler would appear to lead the people back to God, back to peace.
Peace has another meaning, a very personal one. Peace for ones’ own self comes from a healthy relationship with God. The type of peace God provides each one of his children radiates outward from those who love God and share the message of his love with others. Peace-filled Christians are real-life angels in the midst of chaos.
The question then is, are you an angel. Are you peace-filled and eager to share that peace with others? Look around you. You can easily identify those among your family and friends who are at peace within them. They are the angels in our community. They are the ones who love one another, as they want to be loved.
When Micah prophesized that God would send a new ruler, even he did not say that the ruler was a political figure who would use political power and earthly justice to bring peace. His prophecy provided clues to who this ruler would be and the people drew their own conclusions—that is if they heard Micah’s prophecy.
Peace in our world cannot happen until the people find peace in a strong relationship with God. Each one of us has a responsibility to serve as an angel of peace in our own homes, our communities, and in our world. The best Christmas gift you can give—first to yourself—is a close relationship with God. Equipped with God’s love, you are ready to be the angels in your corner of the world. You will give the gift of love to each and every other person you meet.
Giving love to one another is the greatest gift of all. Giving that love creates peace. Peace within each individual also leads to peace within the community, the nation and the world.
Go ahead, then: Give love this Christmas and you will receive peace. Give love and you give peace, too. Giving love provides peace that gives hope to those who have lost hope. Give love and the peace that follows will fill you and others with joy.
Finally, when our communities are filled with people loving one another, the evil and the chaos disappears. The people who love God will serve as angels of peace transforming the chaotic world into a peace-filled world. God’s gift to us becomes our gift to God: PEACE.
Merry Christmas, God!
How amazing is the gift of your son.
Thank you for loving us so much
That you sent your son so we may have peace.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,
Help us provide hope for the lost
By loving one another as we want to be loved.
With each smile we share,
with each hug we give,
May we serve as angels of peace.
With the birth of the Messiah
You gave all of your children
Hope, love, joy and peace.
May our giving be a symbol
Of your greatest gift of all,
The Savior, the prince of peace. –Amen