Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 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!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time imagining what a peaceful world might look like. Someone only has to turn on the evening news to hear stories of abuse, violence, war, and disarray. It seems that even peaceful rallies tend to turn into violent ones.
And yet Jesus promises peace. Maybe that’s why it’s called the peace that passes all understanding. Because it’s impossible for us to comprehend what it looks like. And even when we do experience it, we still can’t completely describe it … it’s one of those things we just know.
Advent can be such a hectic time in our lives. Christmas presents to buy, parties to attend, family gatherings to prepare for … if we’re not careful our to-do list can become a mile long. And when that happens, we miss out. We miss out on what should be one of the most peaceful times of year. A time of waiting. A time for watching. A time to step back and just be as we remember that tiny baby who grew up to become the ultimate peacemaker.
God, Ultimate Peacemaker,
Enter our lives today. Help us to shorten our task lists and enjoy the peacefulness that comes from knowing you. Fill our hearts with your spirit as we remember the greatest gift of all, your Son.
We can all be peacemakers in the midst of our hectic world. Every community is different – what’s the greatest need around you? Maybe it’s a local soup kitchen in need of volunteers. Or perhaps it’s a domestic violence shelter that needs new supplies. Or maybe the orphanage down the street that doesn’t have enough gifts for its children this year. It could even be the lonely neighbor who will spend Christmas dinner alone.
These might seem like small things but take a moment and imagine that you are the person being served. That meal, that shelter, that gift, that sharing of a meal … it could be the one thing in your life that reminds you that there is peace within each one of us.
So this week, and in the weeks to come, seek out ways that you can be a peacemaker in your local community. Share the gift that Christ has given each one of us. Because after all, isn’t that really what Christmas is all about?