mass during the night: isaiah 9:1-6; titus 2:11-14; luke 2:1-14
mass during the day: isaiah 52:7-10; hebrews 1:1-6; john 1:1-18
a city commissioned two artists to paint their conception of peace. a panel of distinguished judges would select one to display in the city square.
the first artist unveiled his painting: a beautiful family scene with a farmer back home after a hard day in the fields, with his wife by his side, and his children playing around the hearth; all at peace in a beautiful home.
the judges decided that the picture depicted peace but looked at the other rendering anyway: it was a raging waterfall under dark skies! in a nook in the craggy rocks there was a tiny branch. on the end of the branch was a bird’s nest with a mother bird, covering her fledglings with her wings and singing in the midst of the turbulence.
the judges thought for a moment, then said: «this is peace and celebration in the midst of turmoil.»
that picture is a portrayal of peace; it also realistically depicts christmas!
christmas is the birth of the prince of peace… but the peace that JESUS brings is not the quiet of an ideal and idyllic home; it is peace despite and amidst problems.
that’s the reassurance we and our world need right now: the coming of GOD brings tranquillity in the midst of turmoil—he covers us with his wings—and that’s reason to celebrate in the midst of chaos.
what we experience today—brutal violence, the killing of innocents, fear—is reminiscent of what happened in bethlehem two millennia ago.
after the birth of JESUS, the angels announce «on earth peace to people of goodwill.» but soon an angel tells joseph to «take the child and his mother, flee to egypt,» and herod orders «the massacre of all the boys in bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.»
peace on earth? then? now?
yes! peace on earth! we believe—and we must proclaim—with st john: «what came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race… and the darkness has not overcome it.»
AND we must live as people who have seen the light, as people who live by the light, as people whom «he gave power to become children of GOD.» we cannot live in the darkness; we cannot surrender to and imitate the darkness; we cannot relinquish our privilege and our duty to love.
we need christmas right now, but the christmas we need is the courage to live as children of the light, and as brothers and sisters of the prince of peace. the christmas we need is the courage to oppose violence and injustice with a love that comes from GOD.
may you and i and our world experience tranquillity amidst turmoil and celebration amidst chaos. amen.