The Battle for Peace
In the classic Christmas movie Home Alone, eight-year-old Kevin McCallister is left behind by his family a few days before Christmas. Two criminals Marv and Harry attempt to rob Kevin’s house on Christmas Eve, thinking the family is out of town. Poor little Kevin must use a series of traps and tricks to save his house from the wannabe thieves. One of my favorite scenes is just before the hectic night begins. After all his traps are set, Kevin finds himself walking down the road. You can sense his nervousness and anxiety as he anticipates the night’s events. In the quiet, he hears singing coming from a church. He walks inside and sees a choir singing O Holy Night. He removes his hat and gloves and sits down.
You may not be an 8-year-old left home alone, but if I had to guess, there is a daily battle of nervousness and anxiety in your soul. For most Americans, it’s the pressure to keep up, stay on top, and remain in control. In our fast-paced society, we wrestle through the daily grind and live for the weekend, but it is not the same for others around the world. A lack of clean water, no sanitation, and diseases are reality for so many moms and dads today. Rather than thinking of toys under a tree, their thoughts are consumed with whether there is food on the table. Displaced families hope someone will help this Christmas season. They lay down to the sounds of warfare, hoping to survive the night. They fall asleep in their tears wondering why God would allow these things to happen to them.
An Unfulfilled Longing
In Haiti: a 30 Day Prayer Guide, GPPD's Haiti Associate Amber Hasson writes:
When I drive around Port-au-Prince, I’m constantly looking for motos following behind me. I always let them pass, knowing they may be robbers or kidnappers. I have locks on each door in my house, some have two, and the main gate. There are maybe 8 locks in total. I always know two ways home anywhere I go, and I sleep with my phone, taser, proper clothes, and sandals by my bed just in case of an emergency (which I’ve needed on more than one occasion).
Although Amber is trusting God with her safety in Haiti, for many Haitians, the main goal is to discover the quickest way out to escape the threat of violence. In other countries, refugees and asylum seekers are consumed by the hope and desire for peace. Wars and threats of violence send people scattering like bees knocked down from their hive. Amidst the chaos, where can they find peace?
Pausing to Reflect
Each night during the Advent season, our family intentionally slows down and reflects on who Jesus is. After a busy day of working, running the kids to school and practices, preparing dinner, and packing lunches for the next day, it is easy to escape to a movie, sports, or to our rooms. While that may bring temporary peace, it’s that type of response that causes us to wake up the next morning with the same longing in our souls as we start another day. In Isaiah, the prophet declared that a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The name Prince of Peace in Hebrew is Shar Shalom, which means "the one who removes all peace-disturbing factors and secures the peace." Around 500 years later, the angels sang Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
An Invitation to Peace
After Kevin walked into the church to the singing of O Holy Night, a strange and scary-looking man, who he had run into earlier in the movie, approached him. Kevin looked afraid and his eyes were wide open looking up at the man. Merry Christmas is what the man said as a smile brightened his face. At that moment, Kevin experienced a glimpse of what Jesus offers us. Peace. I invite you to listen to Casting Crowns' version of I heard the Bells on Christmas Day and sink into a peace that comes from knowing the goodness of God. Do you hear the bells ringing? Do you hear the angels singing? I encourage you to be intentional this Advent season and experience true and satisfying peace and pray for those around the world share in the joy of knowing how to experience the true source of peace on earth.