The Peace of Christ or
Christmas Eve Luke
The “peace of
Christmas Eve?” ... The “peace
of Jesus Christ?” ... Are they one and the same?
Christmas Eve peace?
Jesus Christ peace?
Are they the same???
We all know that
Christmas Eve is about peace.
Ever since we were children and brought to the church on
Christmas Eve, we were taught that tonight was the birth of the
Prince of Peace. Tonight was the beginning of the epoch of peace.
So we come to
church on Christmas eve and we want to
sing those carols about peace, carols which we know so well,
those carols that we learned in childhood.
holy night, all is calm and all is bring, round yon virgin mother
and child, holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.”
“It came upon a
midnight clear that glorious song of old, when angels bending near
the earth, they touched their harps of gold.
Peace on earth....”
“Hark the herald
angels sing, glory to the newborn King.
Peace on earth...”
We have come
tonight because we believe in this peace, this peace of the Prince
of Peace. We
believe...we believe that our lives can be touched
by peace and that we too can be children
of peace. That is
why the whole world is drawn to sanctuaries on this Christmas night.
Tonight, we have
come to hear those words of peace from Isaiah, the prophet.
We have come to hear those beautiful images of peace; that
our God is a “wonderful counselor, mighty god, everlasting father
and ...prince of peace...and of his government and of his peace,
there shall be no end!!! Peace
will be established with justice and righteousness and the zeal of
the Lord of hosts will do this.”
... We have come
to hear those words tonight, those magnificent metaphors about
peace....about turning swords
into plowshares.....spears into
pruning hooks....nations not making war against nation anymore....a
leopard shall lie down with a lamb....and a cow and a bear shall
graze together in the same pasture....and a
little child shall reach his hand into a swarm of hornets and
not being stung. Then
we come to that absolutely gorgeous line:
They shall not hurt and they shall not harm one another
anyplace in my holy mountain for the whole earth shall know the Lord
Wouldn’t that be
nice ... to live in that kind of world?
... where there was no hurting or no harming or no injuring
of other people ... Wouldn’t it be nice
to be that kind of person?
Who did not hurt others?
wouldn’t it be nice to live in that kind of a house?
Or apartment? Or live in that kind of family?
Or live in that
kind of neighborhood?
Or in that kind of city or world?
Would you like to live in that kind of world that understood
and experienced peace? All
of us long for peace and want to be children of peace.
That is why we are here tonight:
we want to be touched by God’s peace.
Yes, we all know
that Christmas is about peace.
We sing our Christmas carols about peace and we come to
listen to our Christmas prophecies about peace and we all know that
Christmas Eve is about peace...
But ...but...but it all seems to be a big farce.
Such a mockery. There
is so much hurting in this world.
There is so much
harming of one another. There
much destruction and so
many wars. There is so little peace.
Peace seems to be but an echo from the distant past.
There is a story of
a young Norwegian soldier during WW II, and his mother and father
and his whole family were killed.
It was a tragic situation.
He was now alone for his first Christmas Eve.
He was very depressed. He
came out and stood by the edge of that Norwegian fjord and in his
frustration and bitterness, he shouted into the sky:
“Glory to God in the highest” ... and the fjord echoed
back... HIGHEST Highest. highest.
“And on earth, PEACE” ... Peace...peace...peace.
The young man sat down and cried.
... There was no peace. Peace
for him was only an echo that began to fade and fade and fade far
It is only an echo tonight in so many parts of the world.
Christmas peace is only an echo in Bethlehem tonight,
that’s for sure. I
doubt if any of you would want to spend much time in Bethlehem
tonight, or feel safe there. ...
Christmas peace is only an echo night in Ethiopia and the Sudan ...
Or shall we remove the troops between North and South Korea ...or
within Bosnia ... within
Rwanda ... and would you feel safe?
And certainly Christmas peace is only an echo for those
families who were bombed by a
terrorist. Is that what Christmas peace is, merely an echo?
Just an echo from the distant past?
peace is merely an echo in so many homes tonight.
I can’t tell you the number of men and women I know who are
waiting for the new year in order to get a
divorce. They don’t want to do it during the Christmas season.
I mean, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping
day of the year; and the day after New Year’s is the
busiest divorcing day of the year.
People are wanting for the holiday to be over. ... Is peace
only an echo in so many homes? Where husbands and wives fight like cats and dogs, shouting
obscenities to one another, afraid and embarrassed if any other
adult walked into the room and heard them acting like that? Those
people would be utterly embarrassed
if other adults heard them shouting like that.
Is peace only an echo in so many homes
and ashamed...where there is so much hurting and so much
Is Christmas peace
only an echo in so many people’s personal lives, an echo within
our psychological selves? There are so many tensions
and so much stress and we
get ulcers and migraines and heart attacks and we explode in anger
at our children…in anger at our spouses over nothing...exploding
at just about everybody if for a short time, when things don’t go
the way we want. Then we are so embarrassed by our explosions. Christmas peace?
I recall the words
of Longfellow. “I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar
carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat, peace on earth
good will towards men. In
despair I bowed my heard, there is no peace on earth I said, but
hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will
holy night, a bursting bomb, a flash of light, a thousand whirring
airplanes roar, dropping their gifts, their gifts of war, and all is
calm and all is bright and sudden death stalks day and night.
Where children dream of daily bread and go to sleep without a
Walter Henry tells
a story from W.W.II. He
tells us one of those stories of one of those Christmas truces
during war, where the sun goes down on Christmas Eve, and soldiers
are not supposed to shoot at one another until the next morning.
The Germans and the Americans are on opposite sides of the
line, opposing each other. There
was a young American soldier, and he was just getting ready to push
that detonator to explode a set of mines on the other side.
A flare went up, and he knew that is was the beginning of the
Christmas peace, the Christmas truce.
He settled down into his foxhole and as the night went on, in
the distance, not so far away, he heard this gorgeous German tenor
nacht, heilige nacht.”
He listened...and listened...and he knew that voice
anyplace...the voice of Johan Leibr...his music teacher from Munich.
Johan Liebr started to sing the second stanza, and the
American soldier began to sing with him...and there was a momentary
break in Liebr’s voice...a crack in his voice...but he
continued...and together they sang all of Silent Night, one in
German, the other in English. The
night continued. One would begin to sing a Christmas carol and the
other would join in. The
other would begin a Christmas carol and the other would join in,
singing through the night. But...but...but...dawn came.
It was time. A
flare pierced the sky; the truce was over; and the young soldier
regretted it as he pushed the button and killed the enemy
soldiers...and his music teacher, Johan Liebr.
… Peace on earth. Is it only an echo from the past?
Is there something
wrong with us as human beings?
Is there some fundamental flaw to our human nature?
What is wrong with us? What
is wrong with us that we are the only creatures on earth that
murders and tortures our own species?
What is wrong with us? That
we make weapons capable of destroying 500 million people within a
span of hours? What is
wrong with us? ...
What is wrong with a man and a woman called a husband and
wife who can hurt each other so deeply and shout at each other and
be so deeply cruel to each other?
The two closest people on earth?
What is wrong with us? ... That a mother and a father can
actually abuse their own child?
My God, what is wrong with us? ... Why is peace so hard for
us to learn?
Because we are so
deeply flawed and because we are people who hurt and harm one
another, God sent us his son, Jesus, the Prince of peace:
Jesus says: I
have come to bring you peace, to teach you to walk in the paths of
peace. I have come to teach you what you need to learn most...to be
a person of peace.
Where does it
begin? Where does it always
begin? It begins here
with me...with you. When
the Prince of Peace finally comes to live in us.
If the Prince of Peace doesn’t live in me, where is that
peace going to come from? It
certainly doesn’t come from within me?
When the peace of the Prince of Peace comes and lives within
you, when the goodness of Jesus Christ lives in you, you do not
hurt...or harm...or injure ...another human being.
The Bible says, “They know me, they shall all know me on my holy mountain,
and when all people know me, they shall not hurt or harm or injure
… O yes, you can be a churchy person; that is,
you can come to church on Christmas eve.
You can come the Sunday after.
You can come and study your Bible and pray with other
the primary religious experience for a Christian is that the Spirit
of Christ and God’s peace live inside of you.
When Christ lives inside of you, you do not want to hurt or
harm or injure anyone. It begins with me. It begins with you.
We then begin to
work for justice and righteousness.
When the Spirit of God begins to live inside of us, we work
to establish justice and righteousness.
We must take a
television, they take commercial breaks after so much talking and we
need to take a commercial break now in the midst of a sermon.
I would like to tell you about a beer commercial...made by
Budweiser beer. In this
Budweiser commercial, they have two great big workhorses, two big
Clydesdales, and behind the Clydesdales is a beautiful sleigh.
You see the giant horses trotting through the snowy woods,
down a quiet country road, and up to a country house.
In this commercial, have you ever seen the sleigh in
front of the big Clydesdale horses?
And the horses are behind the sleigh, trying to push
the sleigh along? Have
you ever seen that? Of
course not. That would be dumb, for a big Clydesdale to be pushing a
sleigh. We all know
that the sleigh is behind
the two great big Clydesdales.
That’s the way it is with peace.
There is one great big Clydesdale and its name is justice.
There is another great big Clydesdale and its name is
the two workhorses of justice and righteousness comes peace... Peace
always follows after justice and righteousness.
That is true within your family life, your
personal life, the life of your city, your
neighborhood, your state, your
nation, your world. It’s
the same everywhere. If
you want peace, you find it after
you pursue justice and righteousness.
So what is this
justice? What is this
great big workhorse called justice? Justice is the organization of
life so that the little people can be taken care of.
It is the structuring of society, the structuring of our
economy and government, so that the little people are taken care of
e.g. the widows, the orphans, the handicapped, the blind, the poor.
The most important function of a government is not defense.
In spite of what all the books say, in spite of the fact that
we live in a defense related economy, the most important function of
government is the pursuit of justice.
It is the organization of law and society in such a way that
widows and orphans and the maimed and blind are taken care of.
That is the primary purpose of government, according to the
Bible. You don’t need
to worry about the rich; they will find their lawyer to attempt to
get them off the hook. But
not the poor. They
can’t afford it. ...
And, do you think that it is really fair, when a person with two
children works forty hours a week or fifty, and does not have enough
money for food, housing, heat, clothing...while the boss makes
hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars?
Do you think that is fair? Fair in God’s eyes?
Do you think that is just? Of course not.
Justice is the
desire for fairness within our own families. People want to be
treated fairly, to not be taken advantage of.
It’s not fair in a family system when certain people get
“stuck” with all the dirty work, the hard work.
Fairness is not taking advantage of others in the family.
Fairness is everyone
doing their fair share within a family.
It’s hard to have peace in a family if you don’t have
fairness in terms of work and responsibility.
…Justice is the workhorse, and justice is the ordering of
society and family so that the little people are taken care of, and
if there is no justice and fairness, there will be no peace within
that society or family. For
peace always comes behind that great big workhorse called justice.
another workhorse, and its name is righteousness.
It too is a great big Clydesdale.
Righteousness is right relationships within our individual
lives. If justice is
concerned about the organization of society, righteousness is
concerned about our primary
life relationships...that I would have a goodness and a closeness and a kindness
with my wife, my children, my friends, my work associates, my
neighbors, with all people.
primarily begins and ends with forgiveness.
The only way that you can live with a flawed person like you
and like me...the only way you can work with people who explode over
nothing...the only way you can live with someone like you and me is
with the gift of forgiveness, the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
For me to be in a right relationship with any person
presupposes that one forgives again and again and again and again.
If anyone doesn’t
think that forgiveness is not work, if anyone thinks that
forgiveness is easy, that person has not been deeply hurt by
another. In the real
world where we harm and hurt and injure one another, my God, do we
need to forgive one another!
two big Biblical words are like great gigantic Clydesdales. Behind them comes the sleigh of peace. Foolish is the person who tries to put the cart before the
horse, who puts peace before justice and righteousness. It never, NEVER works.
What is the
“peace of Christmas eve?” “Christmas
eve peace” has to do with the candles, the quietness of Christmas
eve, a silent night, a
lovely sanctuary. It’s
a lovely experience, and like an aspirin, it will last about four
What is the
“peace of Jesus Christ?” The
“peace of Christ” has to do with those people in whom the Prince
of Peace comes to live. When the Prince of Peace lives within the
manger of our heart, we become one of those workhorses who work for
justice and rightness. Peace?... follows along behind.
Longfellow. Do you
remember that he wrote: “And
in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said, for
hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will toward
men.” But then he
continues. There is
more! Longfellow does not leave us on a note of despair.
“Then pealed the
bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth he sleep, the
wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will
When I was a little
boy, I was taught that Christmas Eve was the night that we
remembered the birth of the Prince of Peace.
The years have flown. I
have now grown older, much older, and
I now understand more clearly my need and your need for the
Prince of Peace to live within us.
May the peace of
God, which passes all understanding, guard and keep your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, forever and ever, that we would
always work for justice and righteousness, so that we would know
you as a pastor have found the sermons from this website
helpful in your preaching, please consider giving a gift to
Lutheran World Relief as an expression of your appreciation. Contact
and mention Grace Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Washington,
the congregation which has given Pastor Markquart time to make
these sermons available to you free of charge. Pastor
Markquart served on the Board of Lutheran World Relief for
twelve years. He believes LWR is both effective (great
partnerships with 150 indigenous partner agencies located in
50 countries) and efficient (administrative overhead of
about 10%) in its work to combat hunger and injustice around