Christmas is, for so many people, one of the great highlights of the year. The family traditions, the glorious food, the giving and receiving of presents and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones. But, for Christians, Christmas carries a larger significance. Christmas is a time when we remember and celebrate the miracle of Jesus coming to earth. We remember Jesus’ incarnation and the message of peace that He ushered in on that first Christmas day.
The Challenge Of Cultivating Peace At Christmas
Yet, despite the wonderful meaning and message of Christmas, the festive season can nonetheless bring its challenges. For many, each year Christmas brings with it family tension, financial instability and relational challenges. Last Christmas, a third of Americans took on financial debt over the Christmas period, averaging a total of $1,249 each. People often report an increase in arguments and anxiety at Christmas. And, to top it off, January is known as being the busiest month for divorces, following shortly on from the Christmas period.
Yet, from the Scriptures we see that the birth of Jesus was a time of great joy for all who were involved. We read of an angel telling Mary that the birth of Jesus meas she is “highly favored” by God. We read of the shepherds being told that Jesus’ birth is good news of “great joy”. And we read of the Wise Men being “overjoyed” when they saw the star that would lead them to Jesus.
Christmas should be a time of great peace and joy for us all. So, in the midst of the busy festive season this year, how do we best remember the true meaning of Jesus coming to earth? How can we truly cultivate peace and joy this Christmas?
One of the most important ways to cultivate peace and joy this Christmas is to remember the reason for the season. Remember why you celebrate Christmas. Remember what Jesus’ birth and life on earth is all about, and what it means for you.
One of the biblical names for Jesus is “Prince of Peace”, which we find in Isaiah 9:6. Jesus was a Messiah who brought peace to all who He encountered. Jesus is our Prince of Peace. His nature is that of peace and joy. Regardless of our own experiences of Christmas in years past, whether they be good or bad, Christmas should be a time that reminds us of the arrival of our Messiah: the Prince of Peace, the source of true joy.
This Christmas, choose to remember the reason for the season. Remember that Jesus came to bring peace and not conflict. He came to bring joy and not suffering. Jesus’ arrival on earth brought freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation to all He met. And He offers you that same peace and joy today. Often, cultivating peace and joy simply comes down to choosing to remember and recall all that Jesus accomplished 2000 years ago.
Another way to cultivate peace and joy this Christmas is to simply slow down. The fast pace of the holidays can be challenging, and the busyness can often hinder us from reflecting deeply on the real meaning of Christmas.
Jesus himself set a good example of choosing to slow down in busy times. In Luke 5:16 we read that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. Throughout the Gospels we see that Jesus had a habit of taking time to slow down and be with God. He understood the importance of stepping out of the busyness of life to get some perspective, to pray and to simply receive from God. This Christmas, look for the opportunities to slow down. Look for the times when you can retreat to be on your own, to think clearly and re-focus on what the Christmas season is all about.
Rest In God
Finally, resting in the presence of God can be a wonderful tool for cultivating peace and joy this Christmas, for it is in the presence of God that we experience true peace and true joy. We cannot manufacture it in our human strength nor must we strive for it. It comes from God and God alone.
As we read in Galatians 5:22, joy and peace are fruits that come from the Spirit of God. They are not qualities that we can develop ourselves. The peace and joy that we can experience this Christmas flow solely from our intimacy with Him.
This is good news. It means we do not need to labor in our own strength in an attempt to manufacture eternal peace and joy. But it does mean that we have a responsibility to rest in God. If you are feeling anxious or stressed this Christmas, simply rest in God. Rest in His presence and receive the supernatural peace and life-changing joy that He offers you today. The Christmas story reminds us that Jesus has done all the work. He came to earth to save us. We simply need to accept what He has done and rest in the peace and the joy that He promises us.
Knowing True Peace At Christmas
This Christmas, consider how you can seek God’s presence and rest in Him afresh. Consider how you can cultivate peace and joy in your life, in order to immerse yourself fully in the true meaning of Christmas. In the busyness of the festive season, remember He promises you a peace that surpasses all understanding and a joy that no circumstances nor setbacks can take away. Because of His Son, Jesus, you can cultivate true peace and joy this Christmas.