Peace on Earth is possible from the inside out

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2006

I looked at my Christmas list ... Oops! There went my blood pressure.

Mr. Smith — so the story goes — had a major problem.

He needed to transport a goose, a dog and a fox across the river in a boat that only had enough room to carry him plus any two of the creatures.

Now, on the surface, that didn’t seem like much of a problem. That is, until Mr. Smith noticed that there was trouble in the making. The goose wanted to attack the dog; the dog wanted to catch the fox; the fox wanted to eat the goose.

If Mr. Smith were not present, mayhem would break loose.

So-o-o, how did Mr. Smith get all the animals across the river? How many trips across did he have to make?

You can work on this one.

During this season of the year, we, like Mr. Smith, face something of a dilemma: how can we make Christmas merry for our children and friends, enter into the significance of the season ourselves and keep our bank account solvent?

If we can do all that, our blood pressure will likely stay within limits.

Is it possible? Doable? Practical? Or should we simply say, “Bah! Humbug!” like Scrooge?

Or, is there a better way?

Yes, there is.

Let’s consider the following: First, let’s review the old, old story of the first Christmas.

An old-time physician — Dr. Luke — tells us of the coming of one who was to bring “peace on Earth, good will to men,” Luke, chapter 2.

The first ones to hear this message were common workers, going about their daily or nightly tasks. They were so excited about the news that they began telling others about the one who is called the “Prince of Peace.”

Wow! Peace in our world. When we hear daily about war in Iraq, public school killings, marital infidelity and on and on? Yes. Christmas is all about internal peace in a world full of external storm and sorrow, plus hope for a future world without war and sorrow.

Next, let’s remember that the wise men, who came to worship the King, brought gifts appropriate to their resources: gold, frankincense and myrrh, Matthew, chapter 2.

Some of us may be more in the class of the Little Drummer Boy, who had “no gift to bring, that’s fit to give a King.”

He brought what he could; he played his drum.

Something small, given from the heart, is more meaningful than something great that is heartless.

One Christmas, my wife had purchased some gifts for our children. I, however, wished to do something as well. Our bank account was pretty thin.

After some thought, my gift to each of our children was two 3-by-5 cards that stated: “This certificate is good for one meal out with Dad at the eating place of your choice” and “This certificate is good for one family meal out with Dad and Mom at the eating place of your choice.”

The children still remember that Christmas. Could it be that they caught a glimpse of my heart for them, rather than the size of the check I wrote?

Remember, God sent his most precious gift to us in the form of a baby. We read: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 6:23. But that gift embodies all that you or I could ever desire, everything that is of true lasting value.

Finally let’s renew our commitment to display Christmas love and cheer to our family, our neighbors, our friends and others with whom we come in contact — not just through this season of the year, but throughout the entire new year.

The last living apostle wrote: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,” 1 John, 3:18.

Perhaps there is a family that has little or nothing this season, a neighbor who is sick, a family whose daddy is in Iraq.

Could you or I give a kind word, a loving act, a gracious gift? Let’s consider it.

(Incidentally, on trip #1, Mr. Smith took the goose and fox across, then took the goose back across. On trip No. 2, he took the dog across, leaving the goose behind, then taking the fox back. On trip #3, he took both the goose and fox across, thereby accomplishing his objective.)

Now, where’s my Christmas list?

Charles G. Thornton is pastor at-large of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna. Sunday worship is at 11 a.m. and Bible classes are at 9:30 a.m.

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