Incarnation & Benediction: The Christ Candle
Every Sunday morning at the church where I worship, we hear one particular word without fail. We are told to greet one another because of it. And then, as we end singing together the doxology, the final words sending us out into the world to be the church center around this same word. I suspect you are ahead of me at this point, perhaps hearing the same word at your place of worship: Peace. “Go in the peace of Christ.”
That heavenly host, announcing with joyful anticipation the birth of Jesus, burst on to the earthly scene, a handful of shepherds their audience. Heaven’s exuberance could not be contained, the supernatural momentarily exploding into our world. To those unnumbered and unnamed shepherds, they sang a message centered around one word: peace. God’s peace.
Years later, thirty-three to be exact, the baby was now the resurrected God-man anticipating his departure from this earth. The message spoken at his birth to a group of frightened shepherds would now be the message Jesus breathed over a frightened group of disciples: Peace be with you. Not once but twice Jesus would say these words to those whose hearts were not at peace. They were overwhelmed, troubled and confused. Into their frightened hearts, Jesus would speak peace. His birth, his life, his death and resurrection brought peace. The Apostle Paul understood this when he would years later write, He is our peace. And the good news is that it’s a peace possible in the middle of difficulty.
Peace with God is ours. Peace within our own hearts is possible. Peace even amidst the broken relationships. Earlier, Jesus had said to the disciples, My peace I give to you. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world. Peace has won, is winning, and will win out in the end despite what we now experience.
As we engage with this holiday season, remind yourself and others that all is well. Shalom. Someday, we will know it in full. Until that day, work for peace where it is in your power to do so. Peace to you.