|-- "The Nativity" -- Salvador Dali, 1959|
And suddenly, there was with the Angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host, praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
-- Luke 2:14
Recently, I was struck by something I'd puzzled about for many years: John Lennon's declaration that "War is over, if you want it".
The Angels' song, heard by the shepherds outside Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, was actually a declaration of war: war on war, in fact, as only God can do it. With those two sentences, He changed the game, and with World War III blazing all around us, let's take a breath and contemplate that.
The movie Miss Congeniality spoofed a recurring theme in the hopes and dreams of beauty pageant contestants -- to work for "world peace". A friend of mine recently sent her own non-religious holiday greeting with the words Pax in terra. But if you parse the Angels' song, you actually find that "peace on earth" is just one of three interconnected ideas:
- Glory to God in the highest
- On earth peace
- Goodwill toward men
I believe those three are not only interconnected, they're inseparable. We are to give the greatest glory to God -- glorify Him with our words, our actions and most importantly our love; and extend goodwill towards everybody, regardless of their declared Religion, background or past -- remembering that "goodwill" actually means God's Will, and His Will is for us to have more abundant life.
When we do that, we have peace on earth.
Can we have peace on earth without giving God the highest glory and extending His will towards people?
Have we even tried?
War is over, John sang, if you want it.
As I contemplate that, I realize that God has done His part to end the war. He's given us an "out" through the Birth of His Son, that breaks us out of that vicious cycle that comes from the human desire to want "one last lick", but it's up to us to receive it. It's up to us to declare, "war is over".
This Christmas, and heading into 2016, I pray that we'll all reach out, in our way, to receive that amazing Gift the Lord has given us: the solution, that smashes the chains of our own human nature and the yoke that comes with it, and truly sets us free.
Merry Christmas, everybody!