Monday, December 9, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Peace on Earth.”



E-Vangel Newsletter
December 9, 2013
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]

Pastorgraphs: “Peace on Earth.”

Last week, we looked at Hope, the first great theme of Advent. The second great theme is Peace. When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14).

What kind of peace were the angels talking about? How do we mortals get (and keep) some of that heavenly peace? And what are we doing wrong that makes peace on earth so rare?

First, there is peace with God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were at perfect peace with God. That was because there was no brokenness in their relationship with God. But when they sinned, that bond of peace was broken. Even then, God, in His infinite love, did what mankind could never do – provide the way to restore the broken bond of peace. He would send His Son into the world to restore the shattered relationship. The ultimate expression of unqualified loved is that while we were yet sinners, God so loved the world He sent His only Son to pay the ultimate price for our sins and repair the broken peace with Him. What the angels proclaimed that night to the shepherds was that peace is now again possible through God’s love. Until you find your peace with God, you will never find peace on earth.

Second, there is peace with our neighbors. The world has known fewer years of peace than years of war. It is sad that the number of murder-suicides increase around this season of the year. It is also sad that family gatherings are plagued with old family feuds and arguments. The Shema, the first prayer a Jewish child learns, proclaims, “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might”. When asked what is the greatest law, Jesus quoted the Shema, and added that the second greatest law was “love your neighbor as yourself”. Loving our neighbor in the way that brings peace on earth is only possible when we first love God. Only when we realize God has forgiven us our trespasses are we able to forgive those who trespass against us. That change from a selfish viewpoint allows us to reach out to others in brotherly love, especially those who are helpless, homeless and hungry. The angels were proclaiming to the shepherds that not only was peace with God at hand, but also the kind of brotherly peace that is impossible without Godly love and peace.

Thirdly, there is peace with ourselves. This may be the most difficult peace of all to achieve. It is sad that during the Advent season, which prepares us for celebrating the arrival of Christ, there is little peace in our lives. Each of the following seven conditions zap us of our personal peace.

Seven Personal Peace Robbers

1.   Anxiety – caused by a lack of faith in God.
2.   Worry – borrowing tomorrow’s problems to rob today’s joy.
3.   Fear – the fear of death and other fears inevitably lead to a fear of living!
4.   Stress – busyness to fill a void in life steals your personal peace.  
5.   Discontentment – the refusal to accept the current gifts of God, such as life, love and well-being.
6.   Envy – the wrong relationship with our neighbors; with who they are and what they have.
7.   Unforgiveness – the wrong relationship with God, our neighbors, ourselves. God has already forgiven us, so we should forgive others, and ourselves.

So we have come full circle; back to peace with God as the starting point of all other forms of peace. By placing our faith, hope and love in God, we find that the Seven Peace Robbers disappear.

So imagine for a moment you are one of the shepherds. Suddenly the darkness of night is broken by the light of angels singing, “Peace on Earth”. And you realize that Peace is Possible. The angels were singing that personal, inner peace is at hand because the Christ child is born in Bethlehem.

Last week, with the passing of Nelson Mandela, we were reminded that his life bore witness to how peace can overcome hatred, bigotry, imprisonment, and revenge to bring peace on earth where none existed before. (President Mandela first learned of Peace on Earth in his mother’s Methodist Church in South Africa, where he was baptized.) Well done, good and faithful servant.

May the Prince of Peace be born anew in your life today.

Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins


From the Quote Garden:
“Lord, bid war's trumpet cease;
Fold the whole earth in peace.”

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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