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 great 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!”
Do you remember the moment the Mantle of Creating Christmas Memories was passed from your mother to you? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. Some life event will put you in the position to take over the role of Christmas family planner and creating memories for the holidays will be up to you. It’s not something to fear, but it is one of those vestiges of growing up that can feel daunting. Our culture places such significance on this time of year; we want Christmases to be “magical.” Praise God, he has given some guidance to help us through the proclamation of the heavenly host that long ago night outside of Bethlehem.
Imagine what it was like for those shepherds to sit there that night, minding their own business—which was to watch over their sheep and to keep each other company as the campfire burned down and the night was wore on. When, all of the sudden, an angel appeared, telling them that the long-awaited Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. The angel told them of a “sign” to help them locate the baby because evidently, the baby wasn’t going to be where they thought he might be. The baby would be wrapped in swaddling cloths (not unusual for a baby) and would be found in an animal feeding trough (ok, that is unusual for a baby—especially the long-awaited Savior of the Jews). Then, thousands of angels appeared and proclaimed: All the glory goes to God; and men, who have favor with God, now have peace. The angels had waited for God’s redemption of mankind since the fall of Adam, and here it was! God had finally wound up the clock to restore the world to himself, and the countdown to the Kingdom of God had begun with the birth of Jesus—the Prince of Peace, himself.
Glory to God and peace to men. What is this peace? The word that the host of heaven used for peace in the Luke account most probably comes from a root word that means to join. The implication is that through some process, things have been brought together, like a chain; made into one. And, this oneness brings a sense of rest and quietness: peace. The inclusion of peace in their praise wasn’t a simple greeting to the shepherds, or noting a future event, it was the truth that peace had been established among men, through Jesus, the Son of God.
God sent us Jesus so we would know what a life lived in peace with God looks like. Jesus showed us how to set our minds from the gifts of the world, to the gifts of the Word. He showed us that our lives are not about the “…matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). He showed us how to choose to love and serve our enemies by inviting them in and giving them double the gifts. He showed us that no matter what lovely clothes we wear on the outside, we have to be born again into a new life on the inside, because all our good deeds are like filthy rags. He showed us how to live with God, in peace—no matter the circumstances—no matter the time of year, so that he gets all the glory. Jesus showed us there’s only one party invitation we should be concerned about, and he us gives the invitation.
The other day, a friend made the comment that nothing is really worth doing if God doesn’t get the glory for it. That made me think about Christmas—does God get the glory in all of my Christmas memory planning? Where is He in all of it? How does the peace the angels spoke of relate to me? I experience the peace of God when I do something that He wants me to do: having devotions, praying in solitude, serving others unnoticed, worshipping in church, giving away what I really want to keep, and loving difficult people by reaching out to them. When that happens, I feel encased in purpose and destiny-for-the-day living. I put my head down on my pillow at night and think, “Wow! Today, I lived as God wanted me to and maybe people’s lives are changed because of it!” And it’s then that I experience His peace—not as the world gives peace with all of the tinsel-trappings, but soul-mind-emotional-spirit peace; a sense that I am joined with God in His working in the world. And this joining, is the only peace that really satisfies. Glory to God and peace to men. I wonder, what would happen this Christmas if we focused our Christmas memory planning on bringing glory to God?
 Taken from KJV with Strong’s Bible Concordance via: http://www.godrules.net/library/strongs2b/gre1515.htm ]
Patricia Curtiss (M.Ed.) attends St. Petersburg Presbyterian Church in Florida with her husband, Steve, where she has served as SundaySchool teacher/Women’s Council chairman/praise team singer/nursery worker. She is taking a sabbatical from a high school English teaching career to nanny her twin grand-nieces and to practice the discipline of devotional writing. Patricia and Steve have 4 sons and are expecting their first grand-child in September!