“Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men”. You hear it so often at this time of year. As you may know, this phrase comes from the nativity story found in Luke 2: 13 and 14, which says “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’.” I guess there is some contention regarding whether the phrase should be translated ‘good will toward men’ or ‘peace to men of good will’, but that is not anything I want to dwell on. The point is that the angels were telling the shepherds to celebrate: Love and peace has come to dwell among you and you can experience this love and peace for yourselves!
I think one of the most wonderful things about Christmas is that people focus on giving, on putting aside differences, and on celebrating family and friends and the things that make life special. All in all, I think people have more ‘good will toward men’ and it makes life more enjoyable both for the giver and the recipient. The Christmas spirit is really all about love, as this is what Christ came to teach us. My question is though, how can we can carry this spirit of Christmas with us throughout the year? Why do we only allow ourselves a ‘holiday’ of peace and harmony?
1 John 4 says 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
The true meaning of Christmas is love. When we put aside differences and love our fellow man, we have peace in this world. If the world could truly understand love then there would be peace on earth. Sometimes peace seems like this hippy pie-in-the sky concept that will never really happen, but I think this is because we want world peace to happen on a grand scale, which is a complicated thing. But we as individuals can achieve peace at any point by simply loving one another and loving ourselves as well. As Confucius said "To put the world in order, we must put the nation in order. To put the nation in order, we must put the family in order. To put the family in order, we must nurture our personal life. To cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts and minds right… Plant a thought, reap an act. Plant an act, reap a habit. Plant a habit, reap a character. Plant a character, reap a destiny."
Christmas is becoming more and more commercialized and I think if we are not careful we can lose that spirit of love and peace at Christmas if we let this take over. Our family does not make a huge deal out of gift exchange, which I like because if I do go to the mall at this time of year it can be a somewhat of an un-peaceful thing. People cut you off trying to find a parking space as they circle the mall for the 8th time, and it seems many people have this feeling of panic on their faces, trying to find the perfect gift or get their shopping done. This is not what Christmas is meant to be about. It is not about being the perfect hostess and feeling like you have to be Martha Stewart in order to earn love from your family. It is not about making sure you send cards to every single one of your friends so that all you have time for is to sign it and it has no meaning. It is not about whether or not your Christmas decorations are better than your neighbors or if your lights are visible from space. It is not about spoiling your kids with things they don’t need and won’t appreciate. It is not about any of those things. All of these things are fine in moderation, but I hope that they don’t become the focus of our attentions.
Anyway, as Christmas day approaches, I wish all of you love, peace, and joy both on the 25th and on every day and may we all remember the 'reason for the season'.
A Whole Lotta Love,