“… and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
Luke 2:14 (Common English Bible)
Some years ago, while I was still in high school, I remember a radio station that made a courageous decision to change their programing. Rather than continuing to compete in a saturated market of pop music, this station moved in a direction never considered by their competitors – what the Harvard School of Business calls, “Blue Water Strategy.” Simply, they would play Christmas music all year long. The idea was that the spirit of Christmas should not be celebrated only once a year. Ultimately, the idea failed. Listeners dwindled, advertising revenue dropped and the station returned to pop music. But that station did make a good point: the spirit of Christmas is not simply holiday amusement; the spirit of Christmas is the basic flour out of which relationships are nourished and communities are held together.
The spirit of Christmas is a deep and persistent call to peace and good will among all people. Rather than a light-hearted indulgence, the spirit of Christmas is the most valid approach for individuals – and nations – to move toward any real, long-range relationship that honors one another and protects and cares for each other. So, in these few words from Luke’s Gospel, the angels announce, in hymn, this solid principal now made possible in the birth of Jesus. Increasingly, in a world filled with uncertainty and fear, the spirit of Christmas is being recognized as a strong necessity if there is to be any carefree rest for us when the darkness of evening falls. Peace instead of fear; what more glorious words could Christmas bring?
Today, if there is in our midst anyone who feels that life has little purpose, anyone who has become discouraged by difficulty or lack of opportunity, Luke’s Gospel has a word for them, “Jesus is standing by.” In Jesus’ birth, God demonstrates not only awareness of our plight, God expresses concern. If there is a soul that trembles with fear and dreads to take a step because the world may consume them, the angels announce that there is now cause to anticipate peace; God has drawn near to us on this day, Christmas Day. \”Peace and good will\” have been unleased in the world. If only small glimpses are seen here and there, it is enough. This spirit of Christmas is an unstoppable force and is moving toward becoming the ruling spirit on earth.
So, what should we do? Something that is recognized in many places in the world, in many different faith traditions, is to carry some tangible symbol or memento of faith and trust – a tiny cross in the pocket, a medallion in a purse, a lapel pin on clothing or a rosary in a briefcase. These tokens remind the individual of some spiritual value and commitment. I ask you to do something comparable. Locate your Bible and place it in a prominent location in your home or office. Be certain that it is placed in a manner that you will see it each day. Then resolve that once each day you will read a small portion of it and close with this prayer: “Shape me, O God. Shape me, by these words, to be an instrument of your peace, in my family, in my community and where I work. Allow my life today to be a tangible symbol that your peace is advancing in this world, that because of the birth of Jesus, the world is now changing. Amen.”