Welcome to the peace of Christmas morning.
The peace of Christmas is not found in the perfect gift, or the loveliest gift wrap, or in the stockings hung by the fireplace, or even in the delighted laughter of little ones as they open the presents given to them. The real peace of Christmas emerges in an encounter with God.
Instead of remaining aloof from the problems of the world and the stubborn earthly resistance to God and our stubborn personal resistance to one another, God chooses to come among us, to stand next to us. We believe that in Jesus, God comes right into the midst of our lack of peace. God chooses to share in the experience of our time-limited life.
Inspired by the prophets, some had anticipated the Messiah, but they did not recognize him when he arrived. The Holy One was not as fancy as his people expected. Jesus came as a child of the margins, a refugee, an outcast, aa laborer, a political and religious troublemaker. He associated with the unsavory – the prostitutes and tax collectors – he taught and served among the least and the lost.
Jesus knew what it meant to enter into the space where peace seems to be a futile hope. Jesus embodies the divine admonition to not be afraid. From his birth, Jesus embodied the presence of God in our messy and complicated existence. The divine child who began his life sleeping in a manger grew up to offer his body as the bread of heaven for those who are starved for the love of God. Ultimately, he endured terrible suffering and degradation and the cross.
If there is any sense of peace that we can find on this day, it is not in a Santa Claus sort of God, who gives us random gifts. A sense of abiding peace can be found when we perceive the abiding presence of the God who willingly shares in the fullness of human life. In order to teach us what it all means, the Holy One comes to us. When life comes apart at the seams, God reminds us that the lack of peace, the elusive nature of hope, and even death are not the final word, because life emerges again from the dust of the grave.
If we are to go forth with peace on this day, if we have anything to say to the world, it is that God does not shun the most painful parts of our lives, but shares fully in the suffering and transforms it through Jesus, the Word made flesh, first encountered as a vulnerable and innocent and tiny child.
Whether you have a sense of peace in your own life and relationships on this day, the hope of the eternal Word of God made flesh offers us a hope which transcends our current lives and says there is more. All shall be well, because God came among us. May you know this deep in your heart.