My Brothers and Sisters,
The year 2020 has been an extremely challenging and tough year worldwide having to deal with this COVID 19
Pandemic. The good news though is that it has brought family and friends closer together, though not physically, but via zoom and other means of technology. Persons who never attended Church or had to stop because of health challenges and other issues are now able to partake in Church Services via Facebook and YouTube.
Let us always remember that our God is with us despite the challenges. So, Christmas is not cancelled as otherwise stated by the British Prime Minister. Christmas cannot be cancelled for we are a people of Hope.
So the story of Christmas is not new, and yet this same old story continues to bring new hope to people whenever and wherever it is faithfully told, clearly heard, and gladly received. The good news it shares is that Christ came to bring life and love and joy and peace to a broken and sinful world. No nation is immune to the pain caused by outbreaks of violence and this pandemic and grief is observed by presidents as well as by common people. Let us reflect for a moment on the kind of peace which Christ offers.
We begin first with the scope of the peace. It embraces peace with God, peace between peoples, peace among persons, peace within individuals, and peace with the environment. While making peace with God stands at the centre, it is true to say that all of the world’s conflicts fall within the reach of Christ’s peace-making mission. Christmas reminds us then that Christ speaks peace in every troubled situation.
Our next consideration is on the nature of the peace. The scriptures make it clear that it is not a cheap peace. It cannot thrive in situations of injustice. It calls for honesty, for openness, for equity and for truth. The expression of the psalmist that ‘righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ indicates that one cannot have peace without justice. Often the attempts to silence those who feel oppressed and openly voice their concerns, only serve to compound the problem. It is always necessary to cut through the hypocrisy before true peace can be established.
Finally, we must understand that it is our task to pursue the things that make for peace, and to build up the common life. We Anglicans constantly affirm this in our ceremonial “Passing of the Peace” during the celebration of Holy Eucharist. Mind you, we need to revisit what we actually do in church during that ceremony so that its intention is fulfilled, and that both friend and stranger are made to feel welcome and embraced in that expression of the fellowship we share.
Proclaiming the message of peace is good, but engaging today in peace-making exercises as a continuation of Christ’s peace-making mission is most definitely our responsibility.
We must bear in mind, however, that the symbol of peace is not the sweet little babe in manger, but the emaciated body of Christ on the Cross and therefore those who pursue peace must be willing to pay the price. It can be a very uncomfortable and costly exercise.
Think on these things!