Ahhhhh, the Christmas season. Along with everything else that it brings, it brings gifts. Gifts that we give and gifts that we receive. It typically brings a sense of peace as well, if only because it’s a season where we can reflect on some of the important things in life. Like family. Like Jesus. Like what life is like because of family and Jesus. Then there’s the Christmas story in Luke which reminds us of and has been reminding us about peace as a society for at least a couple of thousand years.
January is the month when retail gets busy once again as ugly sweaters, bad fitting shirts, gross neckties, and cheesy tools are returned in droves. Gift return season is in full swing. Life gradually slides back to the rut we never call a rut ever so slowly as the peace and joy of the season that just ended fades. Ugly politics slips back into the spotlight. Open intolerances between the vaxxed and the unvaxxed start to once again become more obvious. The us and themness of the mask wearing and the non-mask wearing crowds once more rears their opinionated and intolerant heads. And more. And……”on earth peace, good will toward men.” Hah! We forget how big of a gift peace is, how valuable it is.
These past two years our society as a whole here in America has seemingly had a gift return season that has lasted the full two years, and there seems to be little end in sight. We as a society have seemed hell bent on returning one of the great gifts God has bestowed on mankind–peace, and we have chosen in its place hatred, racism, anger, fear mongering, division beyond measure–you name it. People who would never have thought to do or say some things, did and said some things, often without regret, remorse, or apology. Going for the jugular has become a prime sport. Any way of slicing and dicing another human being has become fair play, seemingly. It’s ugly, and it’s troubling.
Gift return season can end folks. You see, John not only recorded Jesus’s words about giving us peace, but in the same verse he gave us hope when in so many words Jesus said “chill, folks–I got this.”
We–that’s you, me, everybody—have no reason to get into this thing called gift return season…. other than to make an exchange for a shirt that fits. We have this peace gift–why don’t we just keep it and use it (live it)? Why do we so often exchange it for things that aren’t peaceful, harmonious, loving, kind, truly relational? Maybe if we can keep the hope He promised in the second half of the verse we will.