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12- 07- 2017

Christmas Unwrapped: Unexpected Peace

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By: Rev. Chris Troxel, Associate Pastor of Christian Growth

We’ve heard about it before.  The Christmas Truce of 1914. Franz Stigler's Aerial escort of Charles Brown.  Mario "Motts" Tonelli receiving his football ring back from a WWII Japanese opposing soldier.  These tales involve risk, sacrifice, and hope.  This seem to reflect traits Paul names in Philippians 4: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Is it possible for those who do not know Jesus to exhibit godly behavior?

The answer of course is “yes.”  While sin and death warp and ruin God’s good creation, shards of God’s original creation remain.  Nothing to earn anything mind you, but glimpses of what used to be, a reminder of what still exists, and a foreshadowing of what it to come.  Peace may not happen when or how we want, this world is still thoroughly enmeshed in sin, yet God is still present.

In Genesis 2, God gives a particular created being an intimate gift: His breath.  The breath of God is what brings a lump of dirt to life.  This leftover from Eden reminds us of how we came to be in the first place.  It is quite literally a constant reminder.  It is also not coincidental that the word for “spirit” and “breath” are the same, “רוּחַ“ in Hebrew, “πνεύμα” in Greek. What we need to exist moment-to-moment is also a huge nod to what used to be.  God gives us more.

In Romans 1 Paul reminds his readers that since beginning, humanity can observe God’s nature and power.  That is because God is not far off.  He’s here.  He’s involved in this world.  He sustains all things, which is another way of saying God keeps His creation moving, enduring sin and its consequences.  Despite darkness, brokenness, and death, God keeps using the things He made to point people back to him.  Why God does not behave in the ways we define logic are also the actions that point to His mysterious divinity, that part of His nature that is beyond what we can comprehend.  When we encounter God’s hiddenness, we pray that He also reminds us of what he has revealed through His world and His word.

In that Word is also a promise, repeated various times and ways that point to some thing, some day when this creation will be healed and whole again.  John, in his Revelation 21:1-4 gives a beautiful reminder of our sure hope: Jesus will return and finish what God began with an empty tomb.  Peace, not just an absence of conflict, anxiety, or fear; wholeness of God creation restored better than it ever was: incorruptible, everlasting.

Through Jesus, now we have peace with God.  That wholeness with God restored brings waves of restoration into our other relationships with God’s creation: how we think, act speak, and interact with creation.  Others in this world may strive for peace in our time, peace at all costs.  As followers of Jesus, we seek to point them to the Prince of Peace, who does more than keep things calm.  He is present with us in our struggles, and keeps a sure hope and a future alive His people.  Take a breath.  During this season, be at peace.

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