[The angels sang,] “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
So where is it?
These devotions trace scriptural assertions of the historical reality of history’s greatest miracle. It’s the reality that God’s eternal Son was made flesh within the body of a real virgin, at a precise moment in history, in a traceable town on the map. Concrete realities all. So, if all these are realities of God tangibly entering human history, where’s this peace on earth about which angels sang? As war continues in Ukraine, as sabers rattle across Asia, as polarization in the United States exposes cultural fault lines, where’s this peace on earth?
Don’t misunderstand the angels’ proclamation! The baby whose birth we celebrate sobered us years later with what to expect in a fallen world: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Christmas’s message—a Savior from sin born for us—stirs hostility in every human heart that refuses to see the depth of its sin or its need for a Savior. Even for believers, the ongoing battle against our natural hearts, and the guilty conscience that results when we stumble, make peace on earth seem far from us.
So where is the peace of Christmas?
Right where it’s always been, dear Christian! The peace of Christmas is no mere feeling in our hearts. It certainly isn’t found in any goodwill of sinful humanity—a most unhistorical mirage!
Peace on earth is found in a flesh-and-blood baby in the manger.
Peace is found in God’s merciful goodwill to a fallen world. Peace is found in Jesus’ perfection, lived in the dusty streets of Galilean and Judean villages, that the Father credits to us. Peace is found at that pinnacle moment of history when the Word made flesh sheds his blood for every sin that otherwise robs us of peace.
Despite the ongoing noise of a world at war with God and each another, despite the ongoing clamor of the battle within our hearts, peace is found where the angels pointed. Peace is the glorious reality of the Word made flesh.
There is your Christmas peace!
Fix my eyes, dear Jesus, on the gracious realities of your manger, life, and cross. In you, the Word made flesh, teach me ever more to rest at peace in this troubled world. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Richard Gurgel serves Martin Luther College as president.