And we shall have peace
And we shall have peace.
These are the words of the great and famous leader Emperor Palpatine the despotic ruler of a long time ago in a Galaxy far far away. Emperor Palpatine must have had the Nativity of our Lord on his mind as ruled the first inter-galactic empire.
Just look at his actions and it is clear that Palpatine does desire and tirelessly work for peace throughout the empire but it is less clear that this is the peace, or Shalom, that Jesus at his first and second comings has come to bring.
As we celebrate the nativity of our Lord and the secular holiday of Christmas we hear and repeat that phrase "glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will towards men." That phrase is so much a part of Christmas tradition that each year on this holy night we read the Lukean account of Jesus' birth and end with peace on earth and good will towards men.
We Sing these words in Christmas hymns and can even hear them on the radio and sometimes see them spelled out in Christmas lights. But what are we actually asking God to do in the coming of his son Jesus into the world?
We are not asking God to bring about peace on earth by annihilating those with whom we disagree vis a vis Emperor Palpatine. Right?
Well I follow some of you on social media and sometimes on Facebook it is less clear that we are not asking for the Palpatine peace but just take my word for it that is not what Jesus came to bring.
We do all sorts of things looking for peace especially during this time of year. There is the mad rush to find the perfect gift for everyone, especially the kids. There is the picture in our mind of the perfect instagrammable decorations and if we can achieve these then perhaps we will have that sense of peace?
If we somehow manage the perfect family gathering then we shall have peace?
Once Christmas is passed and our best efforts fails to get us the desired peace our neurotic search for peace extends into other areas. If only we had the perfect elected officials we would have peace. If only I had a better job or more money we would have peace. If only our society was somehow more just we would have peace.
But life is decidedly messy. All our best efforts can not hope to deliver true peace.
Life is messy and someone will return or not like the gift they receive. The ham will get burnt for Christmas dinner. Inevitably the crazy uncle will manage to be awkward at Christmas dinner. Our elected officials will let us down and the perfect job does not exist.
And it is okay.
Better than ok really.
Jesus comes not to bring the peace on offer at target or amazon. Jesus comes not to bring the peace that a political party or a job or a perfectly instagrammable Christmas celebration with loved ones.
Jesus comes to bring God's Shalom.
The peace, Shalom, that Jesus brings at Christmas and every day, is about wholeness and the restoration of all creation to that perfect pre-sin state found in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus' Shalom is about restoring us and everything and everyone to the wholeness that existed when Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the evening as friends. Jesus Shalom is about restoring everything and everyone to where there is no more suffering, no more death, no more sighing, but joy and life everlasting.
Peace to you my brothers and sisters. This Christmas may you know the wholeness and
healing that Jesus and his Shalom bring.