It feels like Christmas is sneaking up on us and we aren't ready, doesn't it? But it's not far away. This week, we took some family to see Bronners and Frankenmuth. Even when it's the off-season, you can't miss the passion for Christmas there. Silent Night Chapel stands silently by Bronners, sharing the history of the song Silent Night Its walk is lined with plaques containing the first verse in every language in which it's been translated. We remembered parking in the aisle with a Wise Man and a camel to find our car! Cashiers and store clerks wish everyone, "Merry Christmas!" In the midst of the commercialism of the tourist district, the reason for Christmas is evident: Jesus' birth.
Shoppers and light gawkers cause tension with short tempers and a lack of patience. Long lines means a lot of lost time getting other tasks done. Horns beep with a wildly gesturing hand. Dollar signs sprout wings flying away as the cash register tape grows longer and longer. The last popular toy on the shelf is the cause of a brawl in the toy aisle. It's a far cry from the original Christmas scene. If only people would remember Jesus in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle, it would make quite a difference. But it doesn't, so stress and frustration become the deal of the day.
Peace is something our world needs desperately. It seems elusive for some, fleeting for others. Jesus said some very unsettling words,"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:34-36 NIV He meant families will be divided because some will believe on Him as Savior while others won't. That fact alone causes factions. There is a passage having to do with persecution due to belief in Jesus Christ. He said, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." Luke 11:23 NIV Jesus said this while teaching after driving an evil spirit out of a mute man. The "religious police" were on the scene, of course, to accuse Him of something. This time, it was an accusation of being Satan (Beelzebub)! The reason for our unsavory experiences this time of year, and the rest of the year, has to do with sin. "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." John 3:20. The lack of peace is a result of sin in people's hearts.
Yet Jesus is also referred to as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5-7). If Jesus said He didn't come to bring peace, but a sword, then how can He be the Prince of Peace? Because He reconciles us to Himself when we accept Him as Savior. Jesus told the people He healed or forgave their sins to go in peace on several occasions. He also said," Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."John 14:27 and “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. He brings peace to those who belong to Him.
There is peace to those who know Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. For those who do not, there is no true peace. The lights, crowds, and gifts are misguided versions of the reason for Christmas. Don't make the mistake of putting your focus on those things as the center of Christmas. They bring stress, tension. Instead, place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ our Prince of Peace.
I've become fascinated with this beautiful Christmas song on Youtube. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Kutless.
May God bless you!
Image center: Silent Night Chapel in Frankenmuth, MI. Found on Tripadvisor.com.