Monday, December 20, 2010

Celebrating One Night Bethlehem Day 8

Peace on Earth

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2:13-14; ESV

A group of shepherds were watching their flocks on the hills outside of Bethlehem when they were greeted by an angel.  The angel’s message  was to go into town and find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manager.  The angel declares that this baby, born in humble circumstances, is the long awaited Messiah.

If a visit from a lone angel is not enough the sky is suddenly filled with a host of angels singing about God’s peace to the world.  What is interesting about this is that this is not an angelic choir, instead it is an angelic army.  The Greek means, when literally translated, “heavenly army.”  So the picture of the angels’ visit to the shepherds is that of angelic warriors coming, not to make war on humankind, but to declare peace.  The enmity which existed between people and God because of sin was now going to be dealt with and the relationship between the Creator and the creation would be restored.

Part of the good news we receive at Christmas is that God is the God of grace and not vengeance.  He was within His rights to destroy us because we sided with His enemy Satan to bring chaos and destruction to His creation.  We rejected His Kingdom, His ways, and His purposes in order to pursue our own selfish interests and the result is the sinful and messed up world in which we live.

Thank God that He is compassionate and through it all He desired to have a relationship with people.  He did not give up on us, even though we may have given up on Him.  So instead of sending His army to destroy us He sent them to tell us that God was reaching out to us in peace.

It is impossible to avoid conflict in life.  We have had disagreements and fights with people and the result is that the relationships have been strained.  As we prepare for Christmas one of the things that we need to do is reach out to those people who have hurt us.

Take some time today to pray for those people who have hurt you and ask God to help you forgive them.  I would also suggest that you take it a step further and send them a Christmas card, acknowledging  that you have had differences in the past, but you want to put those differences in the past.  Let them know that you will pray for them through the Christmas season.  Christmas should be a time that we reach out to others in peace and in love.

The point to ponder today is: At Christmas we celebrate the reality that we have peace with God by extending peace and forgiveness to our enemies.

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