Peace on earth, good will toward men…those words seem a little more difficult to swallow over the last few weeks, don’t they? We live in a dangerous world and in an unsettled time. It’s hard to imagine true peace anywhere on earth. But the same could be said 2000 years ago. Jesus was born into a dangerous world…a world where Harod was killing babies….lots and lots of them. A world where people were hungry and hurting and dying and broken. And he was then…and remains today... the Prince of Peace.
His very name--Emmanuel-- offers peace. The peace of presence. God with us. He’s here. Right here.
Often we think, if God were really here, these bad things would not happen. For example, I was reminded a few weeks ago by my buddy Jonathan about Joseph in the book of Genesis…kidnapped, sold into slavery, accused of sexual misconduct, sent to prison for trying to do the right thing…he spent most of his “good years” in prison before he was released to bigger and better things. But scripture tells us God was with him….through all of it. He was right there. When we think of God being WITH us…we usually don’t think that means we’ll be sitting in prison for 17 years or so.
We like to tidy up the Christmas story to fit into a nice ceramic nativity scene that we can display on our piano at home. But both the birth and life of Jesus were messy.
You know the song “Here I Am to Worship”? Think about those first few lines…”Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes let me see, beauty that made this heart adore you; hope of a life spent with you.” The Light stepped down right into darkness and He made it beautiful. He wanted to experience life like a human…to be born like a human, love like a human, laugh, cry, walk, and talk like a human. He wanted to experience our pain. And He did. He took it all. He didn't erase hardship, He intersected it! He bore it. And He is with us today. No matter where you are. No matter what you’ve done. He is bigger. He is bigger than our best moment or our worst mistake.
As John 1 reads in the New Contemporary Version:
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. He came to the world that was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to all who did accept him and believe in him he gave the right to become children of God.
The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory--the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father--and he was full of grace and truth.”
Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
He has come to give us life in a world where there is much death.
He has come to bring us peace in a place where there is turmoil.
He has come to create hope for those who have lost it.
Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord...our maker.
He asks those who believe to come and worship.
But even if you have lost something precious to you - He wants you to come.
Even if you doubt that there is any chance for peace – Come.
Even if you don’t believe there is any kind of hope left for you – Come.
Come, bow down, and worship Jesus! For He is the love of God.
Come just as you are. He wants to know you. He wants you to know Him.
Let His mysterious holiness be unveiled, and this Christmas, may we find life, peace and hope as we celebrate Jesus...Immanuel, God With Us.