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This will be my final podcast of the year, so I will use it to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Of the many aspects of our Christmas story that I could utilize for a little spiritual sustenance, what speaks to me this year is the song of the angel and the great multitude singing to the shepherds in Luke’s gospel “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom God favors!”
As I was spending time with my seven-year-old grandson and four-year-old granddaughter, we decided we would record a Christmas video to share with family for the holiday season. We worked out a basic script, one they could easily remember without notes, and started rehearsing in front of the tree.
Suddenly, Elizabeth shouts out, “How about I say “Glory to God in the highest.” She learned that at the preschool she attends at the Presbyterian church down the road. It was the perfect way to start the video, which her brother Jacob followed up with “And peace to all people on Earth.”
It reminded me how much the coming of Christ was about quieting our fear and about establishing peace – a peace we long for and live too often without. It touched my heart to think that Christmas is a time that calls for peace.
Last week, I was among a group of religious leaders that signed a letter calling for a Christmas truce in the Ukraine. The letter recalled how in the first World War, fighting was suspended for the day of Christmas. The story of that day of armistice is one that has inspired so many of us. It is told as a way of saying we can stop this any time we want. When the world pauses to remember the coming of the Prince of Peace, it seems right that we should all agitate for peace in the world, an end to war and violence.
I don’t think Russia will end their invasion into Ukraine. But we made an effort, casting a line of hope into a sea of sadness. What’s Christmas without the dream of and the hope for peace?
As you gather with family, take note of where and how life disrupts the peace we long for.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is anger, let us share kindness.
Where there is injury, let us speak words of grace and forgiveness.
Where there is violence, warfare, oppression, and injustice let us share a collective will and passion and intellect sufficient to end it. I know that is a dream, a fantasy. But when I think of what I know to be true about Jesus, I am called to believe such a dream is possible. As the old hymn used to say, and I used to sing with the belief it would matter – “Let the be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”
I pray your Christmas brings you joy. I pray it finds you sharing time with friends or family in the comfort of a dwelling where peace abides. I pray that the spirit less of Christmas than of the abiding Holy Spirit of the one who came to bring peace to all inspires us to conspire to end warfare. And may that Holy Spirit of the living God and the risen Christ fill your heart with merriment this Christmas, and throughout our journey together Into the Mystic.
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