“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill toward men!”

What a message for this Christmas! Peace! It’s not pie in the sky, steak on a plate or any other clever turn of phrase that you can conjure up – it’s the very real and central message of Christmas. Let’s just take a few moments to consider the significance of what it means to you and I in 2015.

We can all get caught up in the furious furore of all the fickleness …. The tinsel, the lights, the pretty bows, and endless rolls of paper – but we all know that sticky tape and paper can’t wrap up the hurts and hang ups that baffle the best of “together” people. The folks that you meet every day, that you sit next to on public transport, that you work with, go to college with, or enjoy their friendship with over coffee – so many people that seem to have it “ALL TOGETHER” when in fact, their lives are falling apart! For many today, “Everyday Life” is not “simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”

It wasn’t much fun for the shepherds on that cold frosty night either; out there on the hillside with a bunch of sheep. Holding down the job of being a shepherd, wasn’t altogether the most difficult job in the world – but it wasn’t the job that gave you any street cred – indeed, being a shepherd was actually the job you would only do if there was definitely nothing else to be done! It was seen as the “bum-job” that only village idiots and the “unlikely lads” would ever consider doing. If you had “all things together” then you would definitely not be a shepherd.

Neither was it a “doddle of a job”. Indeed, it was pretty thankless and particularly dangerous. What with sheep rustlers, ferocious wild animals, and of course the smell! That’s before we talk about the wages, the temperatures and the rain or snow. Their concerns that night would not be much to do with the spiritual state of Israel, the crowds of people in town because of the census, or indeed whether the Romans would still be ruling by the spring. Their concerns would be more about whether they’d be safe, whether they’d get through the night without losing any of their fluffy friends, and whether they might ever be able to get a better job. The “all together” facts of their situation was not pleasant reading.

How many people do you know this Christmas that have the same concerns? With all that’s happened in recent days – safety, peace and hope for tomorrow….. it would seem that many people this year are preparing to party, but with one eye on their surroundings, one eye on the news reports, and one eye on the economy and one eye on the stock market. That requires having a lot of eyes!

This year needs to be the Christmas when God breaks in to such a strife torn world, with a message. What message might that be? Well of course it hasn’t actually changed in 2000 years – It’s a message of “Peace, and goodwill towards men”. God’s message to you is “PEACE!” He’s not mad at you anymore – He has called an end to hostilities – why? Well, because His Son, the Prince of Peace has been born – He has come to demonstrate God’s love and goodwill to men and women. And that hasn’t changed.

The media has tried to portray the Church as being irrelevant and trying to peddle a message that belongs in the past, before society became “enlightened, sophisticated, technological and of course secular”. But it’s become so apparent this year, that the message of “PEACE and GOODWILL” towards men from God, who has been so badly misrepresented, is hugely relevant. The God who “secular society” says, “We don’t do God” suddenly finds itself altogether in a mess!!

The shepherds did something quite simple – they listened to the message, received it, and decided to go see for themselves whether it was true or not. And that’s my challenge to you this Christmas – listen to the message of “PEACE, GOODWILL and HOPE” for tomorrow, act on what you hear, check it out for yourself – and then see if your reaction could be described in a similar way as the shepherds: “then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

We have learnt not to trust, believe or accept everything we hear. Fair enough! There are too many con-men wanting your identity, your money, or anything else that they can get from you. But God isn’t wanting to take from you – He’s wanting to give – the best Christmas present that you will have ever received. It’s the gift of LOVE, wrapped up in a Babe that was born and with a name that has proved to be true – “Prince of Peace.” Make Jesus your “Prince” this Christmas, and you too will come to know His peace, His Goodwill in bringing forgiveness for the past, and hope for tomorrow.

Don’t shut the stable door this Christmas without checking out for yourself the validity of the message. Don’t take my word, or anybody else’s word for it – check Him out yourself – and you will return to everyday life with an “ALTOGETHER” satisfaction of knowing PEACE, JOY and HOPE for 2016.

Cristell and I would like to wish you all a wonderful Peace filled Christmas, full of His joy, and knowing His Hope for 2016 when all His promises will be “Yes, and Amen.”

Ps. D  & Cristell.