Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of Jesus. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider this third advent theme of PEACE.
It is a Christmas miracle! Well, not quite, but still an amazing turn of events in our home. You see, I love Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies. Usually, around this time of year, you can find me tucked up on the sofa in the late evening hours, eyes glazed over, and enjoying a collection of holiday shows. My beloved is NORMALLY on travel for work for many of those nights, that is not the case this year. This year, I must share my TV time. Thanks to Covid, all his work travel is suspended and I was concerned the hubby would put a bit of a damper on my late-night holiday viewing habits. Oh, there was initial resistance, and binge watching is out of the question, BUT eventually he submitted to watching one per night, most nights.
At first, I thought he just succumbed to my whines for upbeat, holiday themed entertainment, but I believe he discovered a way to enjoy them himself. He seemed to take pleasure in making a game of guessing the plot, location, and ending of each one. Him: “Okay, they live in Seattle/Chicago/New York, travel to hometown/small town/big city, endure awkward reunion/meeting/enemy which grows into love as they save the local community center/church/house/farm/business.” He is not wrong. Hallmark/Lifetime holiday fare is full of predictable fluff and seldom Oscar worthy performances, but that matters not to me.
I know why I am still drawn to these Christmastime tropes. First, the scenery. Who doesn’t love to see city lights, country/small-town/farm Christmas décor, snow covered landscapes and starry nights? Secondly, I am entertained by the acting. Yes, I said it, THE ACTING. I like seeing familiar faces of actors who I recognized from older shows and ‘back in the day’. Its kind of comforting to see actors, perhaps past their prime, resurfacing as a kindly grandfather/wise grandmother or sage townsperson. I also like seeing the young/unknowns whose performances are only slightly above that of a community theatre production. While sometimes laughable, there is something charming, vulnerable about watching imperfect performers work at their craft to tell a story. But the biggest reason for my holiday movie habit is the predictability that there WILL be a happy ending. At some point the characters, separated by time, hurts, distance, values, misunderstandings, or wrongs, will inevitably find forgiveness, healing, meaning, hope and happiness. People, towns folk, family members, lost loves will be reconciled with one another. There is ALWAYS a reconciliation, a peace that is restored. To me, reconciliation is one of the most important aspects of why we celebrate Christmas.
God is our creator, but our relationship with Him needs reconciliation. Sin (mine and yours) separates man from God. But that is not how God desired it to be, He loves us. God sent Jesus, His son, to earth to take on the ultimate consequence for our sin, and in this He gave us a way for such reconciliation. There is NO way I could ever be perfect, without sin. I cannot, even if I tried with all my being, earn God’s forgiveness. When Jesus died, and rose again, He provided a path for forgiveness. Through my faith in Him I can ask God to forgive me, and He does. He reconciles us to Him; He restores our relationship with Him. This is PEACE. Peace between God and man. Accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior brings us peace…the peace prophesied about in the Old Testament….
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace……But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. ” (Isaiah 9:6, 53:5)
The birth of Jesus is worthy of celebration, because His arrival would bring reconciliation between God and man. That message shepherds heard that night, the announcement of a prophecy of peace fulfilled, was truly good news for ALL people.
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with who He is pleased.”
As yet another holiday movie character finds their lives/hearts reconciled and their peace restored, I will remember to treasure the sweetest peace of all. Peace on earth, peace among men, peace between nations, communities, or households, will only be found when we first find peace with God.
The Rev. Billy Graham would share this with those who sought peace with God….
“Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I ask Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.”