Gracious God, grant peace among nations. Cleanse from our own hearts the seeds of strife: greed and envy, harsh misunderstandings and ill will, fear and desire for revenge. Make us quick to welcome ventures in cooperation among the peoples of the world, so that there may be woven the fabric of a common good too strong to be torn by the evil hands of war. In the time of opportunity, make us be diligent; and in the time of peril, let not our courage fail; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.—ELW P.76
It strikes me that on Christmas Eve as we proclaim the birth of Christ we proclaim that Christ was born at a time when all the world was at peace. It almost seems impossible! How could whole world be at peace? We may pray for “Peace between Nations” like the prayer above but to experience that peace would be like experiencing God’s Kingdom on Earth.
This first week in January may seem so far removed from Christmas. The decorations may be coming down, the parties over, and you may feel ready to move on. And yet, we just celebrated the birth of the “Prince of Peace.” We just celebrated the birth of Immanuel, God with us. We just celebrated the birth of God made flesh. As the New Year begins, what do we carry with us of the birth of Christ? Do we remember the significance of this baby born in Bethlehem or are we on to the next thing because all of that is in the past?
What would it look like if everyone who is reading this would make the year of 2019 the year of peace? What if we thought of ourselves as a “peace delegation” for the sake of our part of the world? How might our interactions change if our primary motivation is peace? What would change if before walking into a difficult situation we said to ourselves, “I’m bringing peace to this moment?” I’m not sure this is actually possible because it isn’t easy to stay that present in all of the moments of our lives. But when you succeed, I think you may recognize just how powerful peace actually is.
If you carry anything with you of Christ’s birth in to the New Year, carry Christ’s peace. This is a peace that can be shared with neighbors and strangers. It is peace that will build up and not tear down. It is peace that is unquenchable. As we pray in the New Year for peace between nations and peace between people, let each of us share a little of that peace.