It’s nice to get back to Holy Cross on a Saturday night, dark and chilly outside but warm and comfy inside. What hurts is to sit and look to where Norm and Selma used to sit every Saturday evening for years. I miss my friends very much.
Our youth director was playing pre-service music on his guitar. He is a very talented singer and segues easily from song to song. He played and led us in singing From Heaven Above to Earth I Come; Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel (a favorite of mine*); Jesus, Name Above All Names (offering); White as Snow (communion distribution); and You Are Holy (Prince of Peace).
Pastor Sattler’s sermon was about Peace coming down from Heaven incarnate. He started with a short video dramatization of the Christmas Peace of 1914 when, during World War I and hunkered in their trenches on Christmas eve, the British, French and Germans began singing Silent Night. First by the Germans then quickly followed by the other two. On Christmas morning, a soldier poked his head up out of his trench with a white flag. And he was not shot. Another soldier in another trench did the same. And he was not shot. Eventually, soldiers in several spots along the front lines came out to exchange prisoners and collect their dead. They greeted each other, spoke of their families, traded makeshift gifts, sang songs and played soccer. At the end of the day they retreated to their trenches and the slaughter began anew the next day. Examples of peace on Earth run few and far between on Earth because of humanity’s sinful nature. Because we are social beings, it’s certain that peace will come along inconsistently and even when, not for long. There is always a person in a bad mood to stir things up and harsh everyone else’s vibe. I believe given their druthers most individuals would rather chill than risk their own selves in combat against someone they don’t know. Not that they wouldn’t break a commandment or two against their fellow human, just that killing in hate takes a certain type of effort.
So Jesus comes to Earth. Where’s the peace? Where is Heaven on Earth? It came and went with Jesus.
Two pieces of scripture:
John 14:27: 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.
Luke 12:51: Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
These are examples of the Bible that can confound Christians and cause skeptics to spin in their walking graves.
On one hand the Bible appears to say that Jesus is leaving His peace and the world should be an OK place. A Christian might read this and blame himself for the lack of peace in the world. Maybe, he thinks, he doesn’t have enough faith or is ‘good enough’ to bring peace. An unbeliever reads them and either demands the peace that was ‘left behind’ or reads Luke and says, “See, you Christians cause wars!”. The first says that Jesus gives peace of heart to individuals, that they have nothing to fear from the world, not even death, and will want others to have what they have. The Luke verse states that the peace of Jesus has invaded the Earth and is muscling its way into the ocean of sin leaving holiness in the wake. The world rejects Jesus and fights back for the only things it knows, fear and pride. Jesus is telling us that He knows there will be consternation between people in even the smallest of nations, the family. Mothers and fathers and siblings will be at odds with each because of the Christ just as there is friction between clans and tribes who might follow differing gods and God. But one day gospel and law will intersect bringing judgement on the world. This is why your annoying ‘Jesus freak’ of a sister or uncle talks to you about salvation in Him. Their love for you or significant humans is revealed in Jesus. Give them an ear.
*We sang the third verse a cappella.I like it anytime we sing a cappella in service, especially during Candle Light’s Silent Night. The human voice is the most beautiful music instrument designed by God. Sung out of the right mouth, a hymn can find its way past the ears and into the soul.