Growing up in Abbotsford, during our Christmas Day church service each year I can vividly remember singing the Dutch hymn “Ere Zij God” (Glory to God). Although I don’t speak Dutch, singing the foreign words was a powerful reminder to me that Jesus came for all nations, tribes, and people. As the congregation triumphantly sang out those words, I thought of the faith in God that my grandparents had when they left their home in the Netherlands and immigrated to Canada after WWII with very little money and nothing but a fragile plan for an uncertain future.
These days, I watch or read the news for a half-hour most nights to stay caught up with current events but it’s been hard to take in without feeling increasingly concerned about the future. Frankly, watching the evening news has not been the greatest way to wind down my day and prepare for a restful sleep!
The world seems far from a place of peace or certainty. The news stories seem to be a continuous list of difficult and heavy headlines.
During Advent, we take time to reflect on the peace that Jesus brings into this world and into our lives. We remember that peace, and a deeper shalom, are not out of reach no matter how difficult the news headlines.
The unimaginable love that God has for each of us led Jesus, in flesh and blood, to a very humble place in Bethlehem and later to the cross. We hold fast to the assurance that His great love will overcome the difficulties of this world. We trust that through the gift of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, we can experience peace in our hearts and serve as peacemakers in this world, even during these times.
Jesus, the Lord of lords, King of kings, the Rock Eternal, was born to a teenage first-time mother with extremely limited resources and no solid plan for the future. We all know the story of Jesus’ birth in a stable - He was not born in a top-notch hospital with first-class heath care. Our Messiah’s humble and uncertain beginnings demonstrate that He came for all people. Regardless of our wealth or lack of it, our talents, or our worldly successes and failures, Jesus came for all.
In these turbulent times when the future seems unclear, can we still trust Him? As much as we want to plan out our kids’ future and ensure their success (however we define that word), Jesus’ birth to teenaged Mary reminds us that our best-laid plans are fleeting. As my grandparents tried to do 70 years ago, we are called to seek Him instead of certainty in this world. Jesus promises us His peace in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” and also blesses those who serve as peacemakers in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.”
Despite all that’s happening in our world and the struggles of our own hearts, when we serve as peacemakers in this world the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts and Christ’s love is made evident to others. Pray that God gives you faith to trust His plans and purposes for your family, and provides opportunities for you to serve as a peacemaker in our unsettled world. All for the Glory of God!