Pastoral Letter - Dec 21
One of the verses used at Christmas and attributed to the prophet, Isaiah, is:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
To me, one of the important phrases here, is Prince of Peace. Perhaps you know the following song which isn’t one we sing very often but the lyrics go like this:
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father brothers (sisters) all are we.
In perfect harmony."
Jesus said, “Happy are the people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children” (Matt 5:9, CEB).
The author of the book of Hebrews writes, “Pursue the goal of peace with everyone” (12:14, CEB), or “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone” (12:14, NIV), or “Work at living in peace with everyone” (12:14, NLT).
So, whether we are striving, pursuing, making every effort, or working at living in peace, there appears to be some struggle involved. I recently completed a course at Conrad Grebel, Waterloo, Ontario in ‘Peace and Conflict Studies.’ This doesn’t mean that I will always have a peaceful coexistence with my brothers and sisters. I still need to work at it and be constantly striving toward the presence of peace.
How can one achieve the ‘presence of peace,’ 'make peace,’ or ‘live at peace’ when others are not as eager for harmonious living? In a pilgrimage song, the psalmist says, “I’ve lived far too long with people who hate peace. I’m for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6-7).
One child educator says, “In war, we draw lines and barricade ourselves against the enemy. Educating for peace means building bridges between people—across every divide…”
Some years ago, our district offered a Bridge Builders course which taught practical peace-making skills. No doubt some of these included building bridges between one another. Jesus goes by many names as we already read in Isaiah 9:6, but He is the ultimate bridge builder. Jesus Christ is our Mediator (I Timothy 2:5), the connection, the bridge, between God and us. We are called to be bridge builders and peace makers too. Thus, back to Jesus’ words again, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”
In Luke 2:13-14, the angel appears to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Messiah, the Lord. After the announcement, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” There’s that word ‘peace’ again and it’s not just an ethereal peace but a robust peace that is generated on the earth and inaugurated with the appearance of the Prince of Peace.
Jesus came to build a bridge between humanity and God. He came to reconcile all things to himself and has led the way in making peace. Most importantly of all, we now have peace with God because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Jesus encountered hostile people, those who hated others and intended evil against Him as the hymnist wrote: “Then ‘crucify’ is all their breath, and for His death, they thirst and cry” (My Song is Love Unknown). The peace that Jesus fought for came at a great cost!
Let’s live as people of peace. We finish where we started with the second verse of ‘let there be peace on earth’ :
Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
Peace be with you,