In his comments after my previous posting, Chris Thompson emphasized Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I like that emphasis, and my greatest desire is that the people of the world will come to know Jesus and to know him truly as the Prince of Peace.
The birth of Jesus was accompanied with prophecies of peace. The familiar words the angels sang proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” (Luke 2:14, NRSV). With that as my text, more than fifty years ago one of my first Christmas sermons was titled “Was the Song Wrong?”
There was no peace on earth then, and there certainly is not today. I felt then, and still feel, somewhat like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote the following words during the Civil War:
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
But Longfellow went on to write then, and I want to go on to affirm now:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
We may want to cry out like the Psalmist, “How long, O Lord, how long do we have to wait for peace?” And if we listen carefully, we may hear the Lord saying that if we want peace, we have to join with others who have the same longing and work for peace. We must recognize that peace, like war, must be waged. (According to the Baptist Peacemakers of North America at this URL address, this is one of twelve things every Christian should know about peace.)
And as we work for peace, let me share two of my favorite peace quotes:
"If you want peace, work for justice." (Pope Paul VI)
"There is no way to peace, peace is the way." (A. J. Muste)
The song was not wrong. It pointed to the way on which we should walk and the struggle in which we should engage.