Let there be peace on earth. Such a simple but powerful phrase. It’s been used in a song and is often used in sermons during the Christmas season.
There’s unique meaning in the phrase and particular soothing feelings that come when we hear it. But what does it really mean?
In Christianity, the Bible tells of angels alerting shepherds to the birth of Jesus, saying “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Other religions also speak of peace, using it as the symbol by which we should all live. Yet where is the peace? And where should it start?
In the song, the author says “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Truly, if there is to be peace, it must start within each of us. But where can peace be found? And can it truly be had?
We believe the answer is yes, but it won’t come easily and it won’t come without much sacrifice.
That, in itself, is ironic, to think that we must sacrifice something for peace, or that we wouldn’t want to sacrifice many things to have it. Yet to have true peace, we must be willing to give up the things which bring turmoil, bitterness, worry, envy and dread into our lives.
For some of us, that means giving up our addictions, like alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food, an obsessive love of money. For others, it means giving up our abusive tendencies. For others, it means being satisfied — and thankful — for that which we have rather than wanting — and overextending ourselves to get — that which we don’t.
If we covet what others have, if we steal, if we lie,, if we cheat, if we abuse our families, our bodies or our neighbors, then we simply cannot be at peace within ourselves, and we are certainly never going to offer peace to others.
The wars that are being fought right now around the world all boil down to a lack of harmony among men, and that comes from men not having peace within themselves.
We all believe we want peace; we all say it nearly as part of a prayer. But are any of us really willing to sacrifice what it will take to bring about peace?
Are we really willing to give up the attitudes that boil within us, setting aside prejudices and past injustices to find harmony? Can we forgive the transgressions that have been done to us and others to assure peace? Are we willing to walk in step with those who have been our enemies toward a brighter and more harmonious tomorrow?
There’s no better time of year to start than now. As Christmas draws nearer, we all seem to find the better person within us, smiling more, finding patience we didn’t know existed, finding laughter we thought we’d forgotten and digging out love and compassion that had been buried under heaping piles of hurt, anger and fear.
What better time of year than now to find peace, and to offer peace.
It is our heartfelt hope that as this most holy of seasons draws nearer, we follow the example that Jesus, himself, set, an example of loving others and offering peace.
So let there be peace on earth and, indeed, let it begin with each of us and extend out to others.
Think of the amazing possibilities of a world truly at peace. Think of the wonder of our own lives without the turmoil we struggle with each and every day.
And then pray for peace, work for it and make it happen.
Would that not be the best Christmas present we could give ourselves and others?