After the messenger had spoken, the shepherds heard many voices singing,

“Glory to God throughout all realms who has brought peace for all people to whom he has sent his eternal blessing.”

“Peace”!

It is on most peoples’ wish list. All the world longs for peace.

But peace is a most elusive quality. As much as we revel in our sophisticated technological advances, we continue to be a civilization ravaged by war and violence.

Two world wars in the twentieth century killed more than 100 million people. An estimated 170 million people died in the twentieth century at the hands of their own governments. Domestic violence and violent crime continue to cause untold devastation.

There is little evidence that the violence human beings inflict upon each other has abated in recent years. The killing continues; the suffering grows. We human beings are no more civilized today than we were centuries ago. Our killing is just more clinical and less personal.

And yet angel messengers proclaimed that Jesus “brought peace for all people.” Where is this peace in our war-torn and violence-plagued world?

In the midst of the bad news that floods our media and the pressure of events leading up to Christmas, it is tempting to become cynical about the possibility of this peace about which the Bible speaks so often.

But, perhaps over the next few days there may be a few moments when the voice of the world’s horrors falls quiet and the pace of my frenetic activity ceases for a second. Perhaps a little space will open in my life. And, into that space may seep a small realization of well-being. Despite the chaos, confusion, uncertainty, pain, and violence that afflict the surface of life, there is a place deep within where I know that all is well.

Although Jesus did not bring an end to the sorrow that has plagued human history, he does open the way to this place of peace within every human heart.

Advent challenges me to open more deeply to the awareness that the peace of Christ dwells in my heart and leads me to live more peacefully in the world.

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