‘Peace on earth and goodwill among all people’ was the message of the angels at the first Christmas.
But for many people today peace is in short supply. Terrorist threats have created a climate of fear and there is little peace for the thousands of men, women and children fleeing violence in Syria.
In a few days’ time Christians will celebrate the ‘silent night, holy night’ when we remember the shepherds watching over their flocks.
The message of the angels came to a nation that was under enemy occupation. In those days too there were terrorists trying to undermine the Roman oppressors.
Jesus’ birth took place in Bethlehem, a town which was bustling with activity. In fact it was so full of visitors that there was no accommodation for Joseph and Mary other than in a byre among the cattle.
It was in the midst of all this busy-ness and conflict that the Prince of Peace was born. Christians believe that God is not remote from normal life, but that he entered into the world that you and I know only too well, with all its joys and sorrows.
So the message of ‘peace on earth’ is not about living in a time when there is an absence of conflict. It has to start inside each one of us.
It’s no good waiting for others to bring peace – we have to choose actively and positively the way of peace.
Perhaps this is why Jesus also proclaimed ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called children of God’.
I hope and pray that this Christmas we will enter into the silent and holy night which is filled with God’s gift of peace for us, our families and our world.