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Reflection: The Purchase Price of Peace :: Peace of Advent
By John Tillman
In the warmer climes of the Southern United States, tunes that regale listeners with images of snow, dancing snowmen, and icy winds strike an ironic chord when temperatures call for shorts. But in the Southern hemisphere, where cold days fall on the opposite side of the calendar year, they are openly amusing.
With Christmas falling near summer’s, rather than winter’s, equinox, those in Australia, South America, or Southern Africa have a more accurate weather outlook for what Christ’s actual birth was likely to have been like. Most scholars agree that the shepherds being in the fields indicate that the date of Christ’s birth would be in the Spring or Summer months.
It could have been cold on the night of Christ’s birth. But it would have been the kind of chill that settles in to the desert, arid climates of the world in spring and summer evenings. Although the shepherds were probably not shivering with cold, they definitely shivered in fear when the angel appeared to them even though he spoke to them of peace. (An angel’s first words are almost always some version of “do not fear,” which should tell us something about the awesomeness of their appearance.)
The peace on Earth that the angels proclaimed was not the peacefulness of a sleeping child or the artistic renderings of tranquility that we often see in nativity paintings and creches. That family’s peace would soon be shattered by men of war, sent to kill the child they sought and settling for killing all children his age.
The peace God spoke would come at a cost, and shedding his glory and light to be born in a dim and dirty animal stall, was only the down payment. Further installments of living under a corrupt government and worshiping in a corrupt Temple would come. He would know fear and danger, hunger and pain, poverty and isolation. He would suffer and struggle with sin as every other man. But peace ultimately came through the death he willingly suffered on our behalf. Jesus would not succumb to sin or to death. The final payment would come as an earthquake shook eternity when he stepped out of the tomb. This earthquake did not destroy the world, but instead began to set it right.
Jesus came out of the tomb carrying the gift we glimpse in the manger—peace.
“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
Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Chronicles 29 (Listen -6:49)
Revelation 15 (Listen -1:29)
Christmas Day’s Readings
2 Chronicles 30 (Listen -4:56)
Revelation 16 (Listen -3:17)
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