Written by: Lindsay Wadsworth
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’” Luke 2:13-14
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Peace is the thing announced at Jesus’ arrival and what’s left with us when the Prince of Peace goes back to His heavenly throne.
Jesus brings it. Jesus gives it.
Like the great words of my very favourite carol, “His law is love and His gospel is peace.”
In a world that feels more fragmented than whole, fearful than tranquil, peace on earth feels like a pipe dream. It’s my struggle, maybe yours too, to find peace within myself - mind, body and soul - when I’m plagued with worry and too busy to rest. When life ‘does its thing’ and throws me for unexpected loops and turns.
It’s the longing of advent to yearn for peace to show up in the dark corners of the earth, and the restless places of your heart.
I’m learning to lean in to the longing. This world needs peacemakers and I can be one of them. Starting closest to home first - it’s hard and messy and holy. To find peace despite circumstance or storm is sanctifying work. I’m talking about a peace that is supernatural not superficial. It isn’t brought on by calm children, yuletide candles or perfect relationships. This peace, it passes all understanding.
It is curious to me that the most obviously peaceful character in the Christmas story is Mary. Gentle Mary, meek and mild - young, unwed and humbly undertaking an enormous, surprise assignment that throws her entire life off-axis.
We sing a song asking Mary if she knows but in the words recorded about Mary, I see a warrior: eyes wide open, hands straight up, fiercely resolved. Leaning in. Delivering peace.
When Mary submits to her role in God’s rescue plan she relinquishes control. Her loyalty, despite risk of public shame and even physical harm, is unshakable. Mary trusts her Lord with her life and she yields to Him fully.
Mary’s brave song proclaims what she knows to be true of the Mighty One; He holds ultimate power and authority. He is a provider, a rescuer. He is merciful and near. His ways are countercultural, completely upside-down and always best.
And Mary rejoices! She celebrates who God is, who He has been and who He forever will be. As she takes one courageous step after another, Mary’s worship holds a torch to light her way. She pushes back the darkness of the unknown by raising His name high, and aligning with all that He has promised.
Perhaps Mary felt the gravity of that night more deeply than any other. This was heaven in her lap. So, while everyone marvels in frantic wonder, Mary ‘treasures up.’ She defends, preserves, and keeps safe and sound what she experienced on holy ground. Mary takes captive every thought and binds those sweet, mind-blowing, divine memories in her heart - saving them for when she will need them most.
That famous term ‘pondered’ here doesn’t refer to a fleeting reflection. In Greek ponder is defined as, “to dispute with, meet with, engage in (war).” Mary wrestles with her reality. This brand new baby boy in her care was also the Saviour of the world. With her heart insulated by His protection, and her own obedience, there was space for longing and fight. For questions and answers. The messy, holy work of peacemaking within.
Mary’s tender tenacity was hard-fought. She actively pursued the presence of Almighty God. And with favour and mercy in His eyes, He met her right where she was.
My prayer is that we’d find our lives marked by peace. Not because it comes easily or naturally, but because the Prince of Peace honours our devotion.
In the waiting and the unexpected, may we surrender to the Creator of the universe. In the unknown, may we raise a torch of worship. Amid the noise and the wonder, may we protect our hearts in Jesus’ name. And within the safety of the palm of His hand, may we wrestle out the restlessness. May we find in these places the gospel of peace and the deep love of Jesus this Christmas.