During this holiday season, Isaiah 9:6 is often quoted: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." And for good reason, it is a beautiful prophecy foretelling the coming of Jesus, the messiah - our Savior and Lord.
In the midst of all the emotions that fluster within us during the holidays, it is assuring to know the Prince of Peace. The old familiar lullaby of Silent Night paints this serene picture of heavenly peace that is a far cry from what most of our Christmas' festivities reflect. As someone who has been suffering from many restless nights, I long for that lofty dream of heavenly peace. Yet peace is a defining characteristic of Jesus, and should be an inner quality of those who would be his disciples. It is the first thing the angel proclaims upon his birth to eyewitnesses of the very first Christmas.
Then after the resurrection, Jesus' first words to the apostles were "Peace be with you!" (John 20:19). The word He uses here is shalom, which is a greeting much like hello or goodbye. Jewish people use Shalom as a greeting to begin and end regular conversation. It is a blessing, but it also means PEACE! However, they were so terrified by His glorious appearing that He found need to say it again in verse 21. Sometimes we all need to be reminded, that regardless of the terrifying things before us, He has it all under control. We need the God of the universe to speak peace, perfect peace, into our hearts.
Through the Holy Spirit, God grants us access to His peace - which goes far beyond the world's definition of a military state of ceasefire. Shalom also means wholeness, a sense of complete healing and unity. It is a state of internal and external equilibrium, one that can only be obtained through oneness with His Divine Presence. Ephesians 2:14-18 puts it this way: "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."
The peace He promises is between us, one to another, but also within ourselves. If you are lacking peace, we need not make more temporary resolutions going into the new year, we need more time in the presence of the Almighty who can grant us true peace. In John 14:27 He assures us: "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." The New Living Translation puts it this way, "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."
So regardless of what you did or did not receive from your Christmas list, you can freely have access to one of the greatest gifts of all - His peace that surpasses all understanding! May we not fear the future that lies ahead, or weep with regret over this year's past disappointments; may our hearts and minds be guarded with an overwhelming sense of His Shalom. As we leave another year behind, may we seal it off with shalom. May we reconcile with those relationships that are broken. As we embrace a new year ahead, may we welcome it with shalom. May we have peace within our own divided hearts and minds. Before and behind, and on every side, I pray you are shielded in heavenly peace.