"And He will be their peace" (Micah 5:5).
One of my favorite memories of Christmas comes from the Church of the Open Bible in Whiteriver, AZ. At the end of the Christmas Eve service we would dim the lights, and a hush would settle over the packed church. Ushers would make their way down the center aisle with giant candles, lighting the individual candles of each person sitting on the aisle. As the choir began to hum the tune of Silent Night, each person turned to their neighbor to light their candles until the whole church was filled with a warm glow.
Then Broadus Bones, an elder of the congregation, would make his way to the front of the church. As the choir continued to hum, he would read the entire Christmas story in the Apache language. Aside from his voice, you could hear a pin drop. When the last word was spoken, the choir sang Silent Night -- first in Apache, and then in English with the whole church joining in. It was beautiful! And if a moment could be frozen in time, this would be the one to remember: the soft light of the candles reflecting off the glittering ornaments on the giant Christmas tree, the last notes of Silent Night echoing in our ears, the incredible story of a Virgin giving birth to our Savior filling our minds, truly a moment of peace.
Before complete chaos returns.
The irony is that it was anything but peaceful to get to that moment! The Christmas tree that was "eyeballed" and looked like it would fit in the church but ended up scraping the ceiling. The kids that couldn't get to Christmas practices and needed rides. The teachers who sprouted more gray hair teaching kids that thought Christmas vacation started two weeks ago. The copier that went down in the middle of printing the bulletins. The star that needed more duct tape to stay in the "sky." The angel wings that broke before the service, the wise man's crown that was stepped on, the lights on the top of the tree that went out. A church meant to fit 250 holding 350 and people squeezing everywhere except swinging from the lights. To say that it was controlled chaos would be even more ironic... and untrue. And that peaceful moment lasted approximately 1.237 seconds before uncontrolled chaos resumed.
But did you really think the first Christmas Eve was a silent night? Was all calm and bright as Mary gave birth in a stable after being turned away from every other place of lodging in town? And now, 2,000 years later, how is your pursuit of Christmas peace coming along? Is your peace hard to catch in the chaos of preparation?
Thankfully, Christmas is more than a moment. The baby born in Bethlehem IS our peace. He came into this painfully chaotic world so we could one day leave it for something better. Christmas peace is not found under the tree or even in one quiet moment; it's being unconditionally loved, completely forgiven, and certainly promised to have rest that will last eternally.
Your brothers and sisters in Native America are wishing for you to have peace in Jesus this Christmas!