In light of this week's political roller coaster ride, we are again encouraged to remember the reason for this Season. I am finding this quite a challenge this year. Yet, I am determined to reflect on the Heavenly narrative that has endured many years longer than my wonderful country is old.
This reenactment photo depicts the story of a few unassuming farmers shepherding their flocks as usual on that quiet and serene night we celebrate every year in late December. I appreciate this depiction of the men's sheer amazement and shock at what they were witnessing. Since we know the Christmas Story, we can assume they saw and heard something spectacular and most likely never imagined nor ever saw again in their lives. Heaven parted her veil and opened! An angel appeared and spoke words these mere humans actually understand.
This angel did what the Scriptures tell us most angelic appearances require before their message is received. The angel needed to remind the honored one(s) to refrain from fear, the type of fear that leads to unbelief. The gospel writer, Luke, explains that these men were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. (Luke 2:10)
Often when Heaven opens in our lives we find ourselves trembling at the knees and experiencing the feeling of intimidation and fright. Yet, our hearts can still be receptive in light of the trembling at what appears to be unimaginable. These shepherds didn't run in fear and hide, they stood in silence with eyes wide open. I am sure they were perplexed, amazed and uncertain about what was happening around, in and because of them. The angel then proceeds to explain that he brings good news, actually the best news they will ever hear and that news is not only for them but for everyone. Everyone that has ears to hear and eyes to see that is.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.” (Luke 2:14)
Finding peace in our hearts in our world that is on fire with war, rumors of war, dissent, accusation, judgment, condemnation and excessive fear is no easy task. The truth be known we can't find peace...we must surrender to and welcome the peace from Heaven provided to those "pleasing Him". This form of peace my friend is not the peace that our savy politicians or well-equipped military can provide. The peace of Heaven is for everyone who has the smallest amount of faith to believe Christmas is about Heaven and earth...God and all humankind, which includes me and you.
Without faith, we cannot please God. We must first believe that God is real, existant and not only transcendent but also very imminent, very close. Translated, this means we cannot receive anything from God unless we depend fully on Him, not sometimes or like when we feel the fire under our feet or when our government is pulsating with dualistic infighting. No, the peace of Heaven is promised to you and I every day of our lives and in this Christmas season. The Peace from Heaven is a person, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Will I be found posturing myself as these shepherds? Waiting in the dark, doing what I do every day and expecting, trusting God knows my name and my address. Will I be found by the angels of Heaven rejoicing at the message that peace is for me too? I hope so! This beautiful story is not just a winter fairytale, but a real and true Heavenly narrative to earth. This is something I can trust, even in the wake of our current affairs.
From my home to yours, Merry Christmas and Peace to you and yours.