Today we lit an advent candle to remember Christ, our Prince of Peace.
But I have a question:
Was the first Christmas – the birth of Christ – peaceful at all?
Mary and Joseph traveled about 80 miles to Bethlehem, on foot and donkey. One of them was 9 months pregnant. When I was pregnant, riding in a pickup truck was uncomfortable. I venture to say a donkey wouldn’t be any better.
Then, they arrive in Bethlehem to find no room at the inn. In my family, this would result in some passive-aggressive questioning: “Was *I* supposed to make the reservations?” (Translation: “Weren’t you?”)
Mary and Joseph find a place to stay… in a barn. This is where Mary goes into labor. The gospels don’t tell us any details about it, but based on my experience I’m going to say it wasn’t particularly peaceful.
The big moment arrives: The Son of God is born as a tiny newborn baby! I’m guessing that, like most newborns, this meant a sleepless night ahead for the new parents.
I have recent memory of how un-peaceful those first days and weeks are with a newborn. Last Christmas, Alan and I had a week-old baby boy. I remember waking up late on Christmas Eve to his sweet little cries. I drug myself out of bed, scooped him up out of his bassinet, changed his diaper and fed him. As I rocked him back to sleep I watched his tiny finger movements and delicate baby sighs. As exhausted as I was, I also felt a strange peace.
And then it dawned on me that it wasn’t late Christmas Eve – it was early Christmas morning. In the silent of the night on Christmas Day, I was holding a newborn baby boy.
Of course I couldn’t help but wonder if Mary felt like I did. Philippians 4:7 calls it a “peace that passes understanding.” When Mary sat up with the baby Jesus in the middle of the night, wondering what the future would hold for her and for her son, did she still feel that mysterious peace?
Jesus is, after all, the Prince of Peace.
He offers us that peace even in the midst of chaos.
I pray that peace for you.
A peace that passes understanding.
The peace of Jesus Christ.