Christmas Eve 2014
It was one year ago tonight that a storm was ravaging the Maritimes. It was cold, thousands of people and families were without power. Phone lines were down; cell towers were down. Radio stations carried on with their pre-programmed playlists, oblivious to the tenuous situation. I remember thinking, “If someone has a medical emergency and needs to call 911, what’s going to happen? What are they going to do?” It was a time of discomfort; a time of uncertainty; it was dangerous.
Over the 1400 years that the Bible was written, that kind of lifestyle we experienced a year ago tonight was the norm; that was just the way it was. They didn’t have 911. They didn’t have ambulances or even electricity. 2600 years ago God told a prophet named Isaiah to write this: “Unto us a child is born, to us a child is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of? … Peace.” So in a world full of uncertainty, and discomfort and risk, we hear a promise from God say, “I am coming to be with you – Here is what I will be; what I will look like.”
2000 years ago tonight everything changed. We are familiar with the story. In a nobody town, born to nobody parents, in a place where nobody would want to birth a child (let alone spend the night), The Prince of Peace was born as a little nobody. And then a choir of angels appeared to a bunch of nobody shepherds and declared, “Glory to God the highest, and… PEACE to his people on earth.” There’s that promise of peace again. Peace had a face and a name, and had entered the world… did it make a difference? Did anything change as a result? Why should I care?
I want talk about something that happened exactly 100 years ago tonight. In fact, probably 100 years ago this very moment. By now, 100 years ago, the 1st World War had been under way for a number of months. And it was getting gruesome and catastrophic. And on the first Christmas Eve of the war the British were hunkered down in their trenches… and the Germans were hunkered down in their trenches… and they were cold, and there was no electricity, and they were missing home and thinking about Christmas, and they were afraid for their lives…
And then something unexpected happened. The British heard the Germans singing Christmas carols… and the Germans heard the British singing Christmas carols… and then they both started singing Silent Night… “All is calm, all is bright… sleep in heavenly? … Peace. There’s the echo of God’s promise again. And then the miracle happened. The British and the Germans came out of their trenches toward each other. And they met, and shook hands, and exchanged food and drinks and cigarettes; they showed each other pictures of their loved ones back home, they sang Christmas hymns together, and the next day it is said that they even played a soccer match against each other. There is even an account of each side recovering the dead and a British Chaplain presiding over the funeral service of both British and German dead soldiers.
Not only did God promise us the Prince of Peace, and not only was he born to the tune of peace… his peace and presence were enough to stop the Great War; the “War to end all Wars” for a day. Was it the end of all war? No. Was it the end of all suffering? No. Was it the end of loneliness, grief, sickness, disappointment? No. But it was a taste of the banquet to come. And the promise is as strong tonight as it was 100 years ago. It is as strong as it was 1000 years ago; 2000 years ago and so on.
So with that promise of God’s peace and presence here with us tonight, let me ask you a question: What was your frontline issue this year? Or maybe, Who was your frontline issue this year? Maybe it was a relationship, financial trouble, feeling empty, health issues, fear, uncertainty, indifference, etc.
Would you like the Prince of Peace to show up and fulfill his promise for you? Would you like the God of Peace to move in your situation / your life? If so, then God’s gift to you tonight is his peace. Ask and you shall receive. Amen.
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