“For unto us, a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace.”
Prince of peace...
Peace. The absence of turmoil. Relief from conflict and the burdens, and trials that weigh so heavy.
We need peace, don’t we?
We need peace in our families, our homes, our relationships... our workplaces... our churches... our nation... our world.
Which makes this prophecy from Isaiah incredibly Good News! We live in a world of turmoil, that’s often de-void of peace... a world of war, and strife, and division, and enmity... a world filled with hatred, and hurt, and pain, and sorrow...
And to such a world... Jesus has come; Emmanuel... God with us... God in the Flesh, to answer those concerns, as the promised Prince of peace. He’s the ruler whose counsel, and might, and longevity brings peace in the hearts of all who trust in him. He’s truly our “wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father... our prince of peace.”
Of course, we sing of a silent, holy, calm night as we once again mark Jesus’ birth. And we’re gonna sing “Silent Night” again, don’t worry...
But the night of Jesus’ birth was anything but silent, and peaceful. The world was upside down... God’s people were living under oppression. Mary and Joseph’s lives were most definitely churning with turmoil. With thoughts of why? Why me? Why us? Why now?
Joseph even contemplated ending their relationship. But after receiving confirmation that God’s Will was unfolding… Joseph and Mary carried on, making their way to Bethlehem, following the command to register, despite the fact that such a trip just added more stress to an already stressful situation.
And as providence would have it, for Joseph & Mary… Mary’s time to be delivered arrived. Not at home, surrounded by those most trusted and loved and needed. But in an unusual place… a cattle stall… surrounded by strangers and straw.
Peace must have seemed elusive. A rare and much needed thing...
Not unlike today, right. With the “new normal” (a phrase I despise), and the uncertainty, and unease associated with many things that used to be easy and reliable comforts. Then sprinkle in a little divisiveness and political tension… and a few wars and rumor of wars… and peace and certainty can be as elusive for us today as it’s ever been.
And yet God’s Word continues to echo, to reverberate: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son, is given… and he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.”
Old words, ancient words... that don’t sound so ancient in our hearing, do they? They sound fresh and new and clear... because they touch us at our greatest point of need.
Not unlike the angels, speaking to shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night: “For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The right words, the right time.
When life is “out-of-sorts” - and anxiety and grief and bad news fills our ears, and overwhelms our heart... we most often seek words, don’t we? Words of comfort, and encouragement... words and hope, and promise... words that remind us that the current situation will not last... words from parents, and family and friends who love us, for sure!
But most of all... whether we realize it or not... we need God’s Word: Words of life.
And so the Word became flesh, with that Word, God brought comfort to his people... and he comforts us still… with his Word, that brings peace. A peace that exceeds our understanding. A peace that anchors us during the uncertainty and turmoil of this life.