12-04-16 The Christmas Story: Peace

Snow!  It snowed so beautifully for Sunday that we had to open up the drapes in the Sanctuary so that we could enjoy the view.  Of course, it only snowed on Sunday, so most of it has melted now...

Then again, that should make things a little bit easier on all of us who will be Christmas caroling mid-week this week.  There have been years in the past when it was positively frigid, going around the neighborhood.  I think that everyone’s a bit happier that this year, it’s going to be a little bit more comfortable.

The Wynnes lit the second Advent Candle in the service this week, reminding us that the peace that God gives us is so much deeper, so much richer, and so much stronger than anything that the world can provide for us.  In such a contentious year -- with so much hatred, so much invective, so many physical and character assassinations over so many months -- it can be genuinely hard to seek peace and pursue it.  But that also gives us the opportunity to shine God’s light in the darkness, and to show the world that there’s more out there than just spiteful sniping.

We talked a bit about that sort of thing in our message this week.  To so many of us, when we think of “peace,” we think of the absence of war or conflict, or the absence of turmoil or strife.  But if that’s what peace is, then none of us will ever see any of it -- there’s always war and conflict going on somewhere, there’s always turmoil and strife going on in someone’s life.  If we’re waiting for the world around us to be at peace in order for us to be at peace, then we’re going to be consistently disappointed in this life.

Scriptures such as Psalm 46:1-10 and Isaiah 26:3 seem to suggest that real peace comes not from our circumstances, but from our perspectives on those circumstances.  If you look at Psalm 46:2-3, 10, you can see the mental imagery that the Psalmist is painting -- that peace isn’t about the churning waves around you becoming still, but rather about the churning waves within you becoming still.

Think of Mary, who was told that she was going to have a child.  She was a simple teenager from a small, hick town, from a backwater part of the country.  She had simple plans to marry a simple carpenter and raise nice kids in an everyday world.  All of that went haywire when the angel Gabriel appeared to her one day and told her that God’s plans were pushing her own plans off of the table.

We’re told in Luke 1:29 that Mary was scared -- her heart was agitated, stirred up, churning.  But when the angel told her of God’s will for her life, she responded with a praise song.  Not a “this stinks!” song or a “help me get through this!” song, but a song that genuinely praises God. 

See, Mary found peace by reorienting her mind so that she trusted in the Lord, rather than trusting in what she’d always just expected to happen.  She recognized that when God changes our plans, our lives aren’t falling apart -- they’re finally falling into place.  When God shoves your plans off of the table, then that means that what comes next is going to be fundamentally different.  So is that a good thing or a bad thing?  In many ways, that’s kinda up to your perspective, isn’t it?

And that’s how we can find peace and joy, even in the midst of a troubled world -- by reminding ourselves that if God is ever sovereign, then He’s always sovereign.

What’s going on in your life today that could probably use that kind of thinking right now?