The joy of Christmas Day is announced in the the song of the angels like trumpets sounding before a king. The angelic hosts proclaim the news of a savior born and peace present over all the earth. How our heartstrings resonate with longing as strains of their chorus, “peace on earth good will to all people,” fall upon our ears.
Is there any blessing greater than that of peace, true peace? In the midst of war, bloodshed, and violence do we not yearn for the blessing of peace within our lives and the life of our world community? How unquenchable our thirst, how unyielding our yearning, how unending our hope for peace!
As I write this I sit not far from Bethlehem, the city of our Lord’s nativity. But even as our carols ascend above her, discordant notes of strife swarm around her. The buzz of rockets flying, the cries of innocents mortally wounded, and the murmurs of revenge for wrongs past and present swirl into a raucous cacophony that crashes against her walls threatening to drown out the song of the angels.
So, too, does the cry of agony from Newtown, Connecticut. So, too, do the tears of mothers and fathers in eastern Congo, Southern Sudan, and Burma.
The wail of wars and atrocities have threatened to drown out the song of the angels from the day it was sung. But the melody of Christmas cannot be silenced in the human heart. Just as light is stronger than darkness, and good more powerful than evil, the angel’s song of peace is more enduring than the chants of war and human degradation.
To sing of Bethlehem and Christ’s nativity is to grasp the struggle between God’s promised reign of peace and the counter-forces of hate and destruction which long to exert their power over life. The Christ child is heralded by angels, worshipped by shepherds, and gifted by kings, but sought with murderous vengeance by Herod who orders the slaughter of the innocents.
After Newtown, one can no longer sing of peace without committing oneself to the way of peace, the way of God’s reign inaugurated in the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, God-With-us. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” says Jesus, “for they shall be called the children of God.”
Let the song of the angels live in and through us this holy season as we receive anew the promise that in a babe lying in a manger lies the hope and redemption of the world.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
American Baptist Churches USA