I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth goodwill to men.
On the surface, the Christmas story looks perfect. Angels appear and talk to folks and all those folks say yes to God. Nativity scenes are ridiculously perfect. The animals are serene and never smelly. Mary looks nothing like a woman who just delivered a child without an epidural. Every hair is in place on every figurine and baby Jesus rests peacefully in his scratchy, straw-filled manger bed.
Here in the real world life isn’t perfect. It wasn’t perfect for Mary and Joseph and it isn’t perfect for us today.
We live with concerns and challenges in different areas of our lives and we worry. We worry about our children, about health issues, about the economy and about things that are beyond our control.
The most prevalent negative emotions in people’s lives are worry and fear.
“Fear is the little dark room where negatives are developed.” Michael Pritchard
Fear is not a harmless attitude; it has devastating impact on our lives. It can lead to sickness, stress, discouragement, despair and depression. It robs you of energy and drains you of life.
Into this worrisome world, God speaks:
But the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 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, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:10-14
Fear not, for God has come bringing peace on earth.
Christmas means peace with God. A savior has come and boy did we need one! Because of the love of the Father, and the gift of his Son we are forgiven. The stain of sin is completely removed. Matthew 1:21
When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem this carol is based on, America was enraged in the Civil War. His son enlisted without his blessing and was severely wounded and his wife died in an accident. We catch of glimpse of his pain in this verse:
And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth goodwill to men.
Christmas comes in the turmoil. It offers peace with God and the peace of God.
We believe peace is the absence of conflict but the peace of God is peace in the midst of conflict, in the midst of tension in the midst of circumstances we don’t understand.
The angels spoke into the conflict of Roman oppression, “Fear not.” The literal translation is “Don’t run.”
There is a reason not to run, a reason not to fear. Love has come. The peace of God can still your soul no matter what is taking place around you or in you.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth goodwill to men.