(ROCKWALL, TX — Dec. 2, 2019) The familiar melodies arrive around the same time as poinsettias. Like cough medicines and Menthol lozenges we purchase this time of year, their lyrics may soothe us: What Child is this, who, laid to rest/On Mary’s lap is sleeping?1
Though the nations may rage and winter weather behave likewise, Christmas carols bring glad tidings—good news wafting from stereo speakers above us. Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Even grocery stores wax evangelical in December with their musical proclamations of the gospel interspersed between the secular holiday tunes. We might be reading the freshness date on a package of roast beef while hearing “The First Noel”; and we’ll know each line: …the Angel did Say/Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. The playlist continues while we stand at the check-out counter: It came upon the midnight clear/That glorious song of old….
So many traditional carols include the angelic scene of the event announced to those shepherds near Bethlehem: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:112).
Angels, unlike men, might not sit in writing sessions—wings against their brows—to compose their verses. They were (and are) heavenly messengers who either speak for God or break out in praise of him: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14).
Yet, in today’s world, with no less turmoil than the millennia before Christ’s birth, we might wonder what kind of peace the angels had in mind. And with whom, exactly, is God pleased?
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah provides a heads-up description of the Savior: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given… and his name shall be called… Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He further specified the nature of the peace Christ offers: “But he was wounded for our transgressions… upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace” (53:5).
The apostle Paul clarifies the means of appropriating this peace: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
My old friend Gilda, whose religious heritage excluded Jesus as Messiah, lived without peace for many years before she understood Isaiah’s words. She’d been walking past department stores in New York City one December day when she heard Christmas carolers: Joy to the World! The Lord is come/Let earth receive her King/Let every heart prepare Him room/And heaven and nature sing…. Gilda listened and absorbed the message that day and received her King—and his peace.
Another friend, Amy, emailed me recently to say she awoke with peace on the day her beloved husband began serving an unjust prison sentence. She and her family are experiencing the promise of Jesus found in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives….”
Carlos is a former US Marine Corps Sergeant who lost most of both legs and one hand while serving in Afghanistan. He suffered a long season of recovery that included feelings of worthlessness and despair. He testifies that only his faith in Christ carried him safely through those painful, difficult times.
The peace of God is available to all who receive with joy his perfect gift. This peace does not depend upon circumstances: He comes to make His blessings flow/Far as the curse is found….
[1Christmas carols included are Public Domain; 2Scriptures quoted from the English Standard Version]
By Patti Richter. Patti writes and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (March 2019). Read more of her essays at blueribbonnews.com/category/faith.
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