I hope you remember we have been talking about the Gift of the Spirit the last few weeks from Galatians 5: 22-23, “But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things.” This week (the week before Christmas) we want to think about peace and joy.
How many times have you heard your Mom (or Dad) say, “I just want a little peace and quiet.” Maybe it was directed at you and your brothers or sisters — maybe not, but we all need some quiet time to just be alone with ourselves and get our thoughts together. Especially at Christmas time and now with the pandemic, some peaceful time is much needed by all for themselves. In fact, did you know that Jesus is called the Prince of Peace? He was born to bring peace to all people and nations. That hasn’t quite happened physically yet, but it will and can if we let it. What is important is that there is a spiritual peace that we as Christians can all have if we just embrace it. Jesus said, “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). People of the world dream and scheme for peace, but the only real peace is in the heart and is provided by the presence of the Prince of Peace, our Savior. Let Jesus, born in that manger many years ago, give you peace and calm and the reassurance that everything will be all right because of His birth and resurrection. He is still in charge and knows what He is doing, so we can have a quiet knowledge of His ultimate power and care for us — even in these trying times.
Then we see the word Joy spread around so much during the Advent and Christmas season, but this year because of all the things going on with COVID, some people are not experiencing the joy that God wants us to feel right now. Many are concerned and worried (and have a right to be) about the virus, about schools being closed, being out of work, and having little income. Some have even lost loved ones and miss them terribly. But there is ALWAYS joy to be found in this world if we just think about it. God sent His Son to be born and save us from our sins, so we could have joy all the time, knowing we were going to get to live with Him forever. Scripture encourages us to rejoice in the blessings of our life and give glory to God in all things. Romans 15: 13 tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” True joy can be obtained in the heartfelt gratitude of God’s love, mercy, and grace ever day of every year! We can find joy in each other too if we just look for it.
It’s just another week until Christmas Day. This week try to take some time to find peace, quiet, and calmness for yourself and let’s others have some time to do the same. Acknowledge and look for joy in the common, ordinary things of life. Enjoy each other and give thanks to God for all He has done for each of us. Then we will have true joy and peace as we remember those things and prepare for His birth.
Let’s say a prayer to ask God for those things. Father God, help us always to seek Your holy peace and joy in whatever we do. Things are very different this year for us, but we know that You will help us get through this time and beyond if we just ask and trust You. May we offer each other that same peace and joy that You gave us in the stable in Bethlehem when Your Son was born. It is in His name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.