"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 NIV

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heavenly Peace

"Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace."

There is an exclamation mark after the title in my hymnal. Of all the titles to proclaim triumphantly, why "Silent Night?" Seems out of place. Shouldn't it be whispered, like the slow pace of the first few notes? Hush, for the baby is sleeping.

It was a holy night. A night unlike any other before or since. All was calm. For the first time in history, the world could sleep in heavenly peace. Christ, the Savior, was born. The Rescuer, true love wrapped in rags, was among them. And his Father had a plan: an unexpectedly glorious plan.

It was the dawn of redeeming grace. The beginning of the one in flesh who would have the last word, who would destroy even death. Heaven could not keep silent that night. The skies burst open with streams of light as hosts of angels sang to quaking shepherds. Who would be able to stand at such a moment?

The slumbering residents of Bethlehem may not have rushed to greet the king, shoppers may not have paused this year to look beyond the sales, old men dressed in red and listening to requests may not have understood the real reason for a holiday, but they were all invited to sleep in heavenly peace.

Today, we are all invited to sleep in heavenly peace. We are able to rest in the assurance that the Rescuer has come, and the end of the story has already been decided. Good triumphs over evil! Peace and love will reign for all eternity! All is bright, for he is the son of God, love's pure light.

It began that holy night. Holy Night! An eve worthy of exclamation and song. I will shout it with joy all my waking moments, then testify in the dark hours - Yes, I can sleep in heavenly peace.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.  (Luke 1:30-33 NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27 NIV)

Savior, you are the answer to all the wrong in this world. You are the reason I do not need to fear death. You left the comfort of community with your father so that today I can enjoy that same closeness. I am humbled by your love. All I can say is thanks. Thanks for giving me the gift of peace. Amen.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

They Left the Sheep

"Mom, I wouldn't have left the sheep," my seven year-old commented after listening to the words of a popular carol closely. "I would have brought them with me. What if something happened to the sheep while they were gone?"

Why did the shepherds leave the sheep behind?

They were told to go. Angels gave them an opportunity to see something amazing, but the offer was time sensitive. Were they told that nothing would happen to their sheep while they were gone? No, they were given an open door and knew that what was on the other side was better than where they were at the time.

So often I sense God telling me to do something, but I hesitate. Instead of quick obedience, I rationalize why that's not a good idea. Or, why I should do it later instead. I start to worry about the unfinished business of my day. What about my sheep?

God sees all aspects of my life, even the parts I do not fully understand. When he asks me to do something, I can trust that it is for a good reason: for His good. It may be, and most likely is, for a greater purpose than I realize.

So, did something bad happen to the sheep?

I admitted to my son that we have no way of knowing. I have a feeling, though, that an angel stuck around after the final notes of the hallelujah choir to play stand-in shepherd. But even if the sheep did not survive, I don't think it mattered as much to them anymore. When they came face to face with the author of life in infant form, all else grew strangely dim.

Leave the sheep, if that is God's request. Talk to the stranger. Rearrange the priorities of the day. Give abundantly. Let an angel step in where you stepped away. Do not miss seeing the face of the King.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found...      (Luke 2:8-16a NIV)

Messiah, Prince of Peace, I do not want to miss seeing you. When I feel a nudge or hear a direct command, I want to move forward and not look back, not worry. I want to see you clearly and the things of this earth dimly. Give me boldness and wisdom, peace and hope. You are what is most important each moment of my life. Amen.