Advent Devotion – December 24, 2010

Scripture – Luke 2:1–20

“And on earth peace, goodwill among people.”  Luke 2:14 (NIV)

2010 Advent Devotion for web As a child this phrase from Luke’s version of the Christmas story was one of my favorites. Each time I heard this ancient text read on Christmas Eve, I felt warm and safe in the world, full of goodwill toward others and glad to be alive. I felt part of a world where God doesn’t play favorites and life isn’t a contest between “us” and “them.” I loved the inclusiveness of it, the fact that no one was left out. Today this remains for me the spark of light at the heart of the Christmas story and the good news of Jesus’ teachings. However, as an adult I have also experienced the bad news that when humans feel threatened, we tend to carve the world up into camps of us and them, look for scapegoats, convince ourselves that God is on our side, and demonize the other, justifying all manner of atrocities. Witness the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, slavery, the Holocaust, killing fields, and 9/11, as well as the violent rhetoric that sparks and fuels horrors like these. Jesus himself was a victim of these sparks so readily ignited within us when we feel threatened—as many do today. In such times perhaps the act of peacemaking is mainly about choosing which fires we will feed in ourselves, our communities, and our world.

Gracious God, as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, help us to realize your promise of abundant life for all people, and let us leave no one out as you lead us in your ways of peace and justice. Amen.

Donna Miller (reflection), staff member,
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, 1987–1999,
The Rev. Philip Woods (prayer), Council for World Mission,
executive secretary for Mission Programme, London, England

Order Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace.

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