Reflection for Sunday – December 25, 2022
Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Preacher: Irene Goodwin
The Angels sing, “Peace on earth, good will to all on whom God’s favor rests.” Our Christmas readings are so well known that we hardly consider their impact on our lives. I see the readings for Christmas like a Matryoshka doll (Russian Nesting Doll). Each doll is split in the middle. You twist the doll open to get to the next doll until you get to the small inner core.
We open each layer of the readings to get to the core meaning for our lives. The first layer might be how the world might hear them. When the world thinks of Christmas, it mostly thinks of the Christmas scene we get from St. Francis. This is a combination of Matthew and Luke’s Scriptures where angels, stars, shepherds and wise men all gather at the stable. The second layer might be Luke’s attempt to put Jesus’ birth in history. Luke wanted us to know that God becoming human was a real event at a real time and place. Some commentators tell us that Luke wanted to remind the reader that Caesar Augustus was known as a bringer of Peace. Another layer might be helping readers to know Jesus is the long-awaited messiah. Our first reading from Isaiah tells of a people in darkness waiting for one who will bring peace. At the time of Christ’s birth all people were still looking for peace. We know we are a long way from peace today. The fourth layer would be the meaning of this story of a child born far from home with shepherds appearing and angels singing of peace.
God became human in the person of Jesus. He certainly walked this earth and taught people how to be peacemakers. We like the people of Isaiah’s time and first century Christians, want God to step in and make peace in the world and our lives. However, the promise of peace is more than a blessing; it is a charge for each of us to make it possible in this world. Perhaps I feel hopeless in what is happening in Ukraine, the divide in our country, the violence in our city or even in our homes. We can only take small steps to create peace within us. Many believe that a nonviolent approach to racism and violence is possible through contemplative prayer. In contemplative prayer it is said that we begin to let go of ourselves and think of others. We begin to recognize our connectedness to all of creation and our responsibility to creation. It cannot be taught, only practiced with the hope that our lives reflect peace. Taking on a practice of contemplation and then going into the world as an example of nonviolence in this messy polarized world will not bring world peace—but it’s a beginning to bring peace to our corner of the world.
Last summer at the Southwest region championship in Little League Baseball a pitcher, Kaiden Shelton, threw a pitch that hit the batter in the head. Isaiah Jarvis’s helmet flew off and he fell to the ground. He was okay and fans applauded him. However, the pitcher was noticeably upset. Isaiah dropped his helmet and slowly walked to the pitcher and gave him a hug. Isaiah told Kaiden, “You’re doing great!” What was it about this young man that enabled him to react this way? Very often a child will lead us.
Christmas is a time in our year when the world stops for just a moment and remembers there was one moment in history where a child was born with a promise and a challenge. We each need to choose if we will be part of the challenge. If Christmas is nothing else, is it not a time when people of all faiths come together to sing, Peace on Earth to all?