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!”
Luke 2: 8-14

There is a lovely Christmas song, written by Chris Tomlin and sung by Audrey Assad, called “Winter Snow.” When I first heard this song, it resonated deep in my spirit, so much so that I choreographed it as the intro dance to the Christmas Ballet I directed a few years ago. When the ballerinas performed it, I was struck by the wonder it incited. It became an anthem of worship, inviting the celebration of our Prince of Peace.

I encourage you to read these lyrics out loud and listen.

Could’ve come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we’ve scarred

But You came like a winter snow, yes, You did
You were quiet, You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Ooh no, Your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

Oh, You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

In John 14, Jesus is preparing his disciples for his ascent to heaven. He shares with them that on their behalf he will ask the Father and they will be given the Holy Spirit as a helper to remind them of all Jesus taught them. And he speaks blessing over them saying: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (vs.27)”

The Prince of Peace arrives on earth as a needy baby, takes on our suffering upon himself, rises victoriously over the devastation of death, and prior to taking his place at God’s right hand, bestows his gift of Peace upon his beloved.

The upheaval in our lives today is not mysterious or surprising. Jesus’ very advent to earth was during a season of displacement and exhaustion. Just Jesus arriving on earth can be seen as a massive disruption. And yet it is the Jesus-type of disruption that brings true peace – all things in their rightful place, returning to how they were designed – Shalom.

Peace is a gift and it is a tool.  Peace isn’t passive. It is an action. In a season where we celebrate the Prince of Peace coming to earth, the idea of peace can easily become ornamental – even the fact that we can purchase cute little doves wrapped in scarves to hang on our trees celebrates this idea.

But true peace isn’t always quiet. It isn’t always still. It interrupts and can turn everything upside down. In order to get to the “feeling” of peace, our snow globe lives sometimes need a little shaking. What does not belong will fall away and make room for the order God designed in the beginning.

Imagine with me for a moment – about 2,000 years ago there are a group of shepherds who were going about their daily tasks, hanging out with their sheep in a field. It was just another night. It was probably warmer than we imagine, smellier than we think, and not at all picturesque. These shepherds are not about any sort of business that is exceptional. They aren’t kings or landowners, but they are about to be the first to hear the very best news that has ever entered the planet earth and it is about to completely disrupt their lives.

When the angels brought “good tidings of great joy,” to the shepherds, Luke notes that they suddenly appeared. The angels’ arrival was unexpected and disruptive, but it led to a reality that shifted the whole course of human history for the very best, true, and beautiful.

Entering into this Christmas season, As Christians, we’ve already been sealed with a promise of Jesus’ peace. We’ve already been gifted this beautiful gift and it’s up to us to practice using it and giving the glory back to God. We don’t have to wait until the 25th to open that long-awaited present – it is already here in our presence inside of us by the power of the Holy Spirit. And because it’s a gift, we have a responsibility to steward it well.

Especially during the holiday season, it can be hard not to get wrapped up in all of the wonderful things that can be done and forget to abide and bask in the peace given to us. Here are a few ways I will be practicing peace and making room for the Lord to put everything in His perfect order. I invite you to practice these with me.

  1. Resist the urge to numb out by investing in your most important relationship first.
    Choose a day, a few hours, or several different chunks of time, outside your regular time with the Lord, to spend time with Jesus and protect them vigilantly. Whatever is on my calendar or fills my life should be sitting on a foundation of placing Jesus first.

    • This could look like:
      • Sitting in my favorite chair with a cup of coffee and my Bible
      • Journaling, writing a poem, painting a watercolor
      • Turning up the music and welcoming Jesus into my holiday planning and then setting up my calendar for times of quiet and times of activity.
      • Turning up the music and having a dance party or going for a run
  2. Be intentional in the way you invest in relationships.
    Take note of each person you want to invest in over the season and put something on the calendar, whether it is getting to talk with someone on the phone, mailing a handwritten note of encouragement, or actually sitting down with someone face-to-face. Making intentional time for those closest to you acknowledges their worth and honors the goodness of God in your relationship.
  3. Seek opportunities to be a vessel of peace.
    With our minds, hearts, and schedules directed by the Lord – it frees us to see opportunities to bring peace and blessing to others outside of our everyday space. This doesn’t mean saying yes to everything, but it means we can say yes to the right things without fear of compromising what is truly important. This Christmas, be a generous blessing giver out of the abundance the Lord has given you.

Grace and peace to you. Merry Christmas.

Continue in Advent