We are in the midst of the second week of Advent and "peace" is what I am meditating on. Every year when my children have asked me what I want for Christmas, my answer is always, Peace. They usually roll their eyes and say, "Oh mom, come on just tell me what you want for Christmas". The truth is, I do just want peace. Peace in this world, peace in my family, peace in my job, peace in my church, just good ol' fashion peace. And this year my yearning for peace is magnified with the reality that my 21 year old nephew is in Afghanistan fighting a war in a country that is so mysterious to me. Everyday I put my faith and trust in God that Ben will come home safely when his tour is done.
Peace. It is that calming, meditative state that only can be obtained after the chaos, struggles, challenges and war is over. What we have to go through to obtain peace can put most of us over the edge. But it is that calmness and serenity that makes us persevere through it all to be able to be in a place of peace.
In the months, weeks and days leading up to the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary's lives were anything but peaceful. To be a young unmarried girl facing the realization of being with child must have been overwhelming and frightening at times. For Joseph the impending time of the birth of Mary's child was most likely a time of preparing, questioning and searching. There was so much for both of them to try and understand that their minds must have been going non stop. Questions of "What will people say?", "How will people react?" and "Why me?" must have been spoken between the two of them in the weeks before Mary's body would show the growing roundness of her belly. Peace was not around them as the time came for Mary to give birth and there was no where for her to lie down. The sounds of the animals around them in the stable and the cries of a newborn baby as he took his first breath would have broken any peaceful silence on that night so long ago.
But peace is what was brought into the world that night as Christ was born. The peace of knowing that God's greatest gift had come to save us all. Where there was chaos, anger, struggles and war, peace would surpass it all. As Christ lay in the arms of Mary, and as Joseph, the shepherds and animals gathered around, peace rang out through all the land as the voices of angels were heard singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men".