There was a party going on in heaven, a jubilant celebration and the only humans who caught a glimpse of it were a few terrified lowly shepherds. Here's what they witnessed. The glory of heaven broke through the skies as Jesus was born in Bethlehem. An angel stood in the midst and made the greatest declaration the universe would ever hear--the savior of the world was finally born! In the glistening light that pierced the darkness, a great company of angelic beings then suddenly appeared. They all sang loudly and triumphantly: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." They had been waiting for this moment in time from the foundation of the world.
The angels sang of peace brought to earth by this tiny infant, son of God and son of man. But, looking at the world around us, one has to wonder, peace? What peace? Usually we think of peace as a socio-political phenomena dependent upon world leaders and global treaties. And, of course, that will happen universally when the Prince of Peace finally returns to our planet. But most translations of this scripture similarly indicate the peace that Jesus was to bring was for those "on whom his favor rests." That would seem to be referring only to those who are already in a relationship with Jesus. Is it exclusive to believers? Or is it supposed to start with believers?
"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me" are words from a familiar song. Though it sounds simple, individual attempts at ordinary everyday peacemaking are not easy. How does peace on earth begin with me?
Everyday life can be overwhelming with lots of things that are out of our control: events, circumstances and especially the actions and reactions of those around us. So here's a good place to start--taking responsibility for the energy that is in our own personal space. I love the imagery of managing the energy in my space, i.e. realm of influence. For the longest time I didn't recognize I had my own space. I always thought I was in someone else's space. So when I first heard it expressed in those words, it really spoke to me. It simply means monitoring our reactions to what is taking place around us. When the vibes in our own little corner of the world are peaceful, conciliatory and gracious, then this will positively spill over onto those around us and they will experience the peace of Jesus no matter who they are.
I think we become accustomed to, or comfortable with, our negative reactions toward a lot of day by day stuff that goes on in our space. More often than not, we think it doesn't matter. We may feel justified in responding curtly on the phone or impatiently with a family member. I'm kidding myself if I think my huffing and puffing and grumbling to myself when the garage door isn't working AGAIN doesn't affect someone within earshot at home. Watching my husband retreat to his office is proof of that.
We can all rather quickly come up with our own list of pet peeves and annoyances--people who take forever at a checkout; unsolicited opinion-givers; people who love bickering; noisy neighbors; grumblers; people who can't make up their minds; worry warts; people who are unresponsive; people who are rude; party poopers; people who are 24/7 annoying and the list goes on...right?
Here's the good thing though--don't miss this...a peaceful reaction to life's little irritants makes us less apt to end up on someone else's annoying-people list. No one wants to be a pet peeve A-lister.
The same heavenly peace, planned from the foundation of the world and that Jesus brought to the earth, miraculously resides in those "on whom his favor rests." That's amazing, isn't it? But here's the deal. It's meant to spill over from your realm of influence into someone else's space. That means it's contagious. It will "spill over" any time we have a peaceful, conciliatory response to an otherwise bothersome or contentious invasion of our individual space. It can be in a kind word to a harried checkout clerk. It will show up when bickering is avoided. It's there in the form of patience expressed toward someone who can't make up their mind. It soothes when rudeness is overlooked.
None of us will be able to pull this off 100%. But hopefully sharpening our awareness of the need to become peacemakers within "our space" will help. "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me," in my little corner of the world. How's the energy in your corner?