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December 22

Pastor's Minute

“...and on Earth, peace and good will to all.”

In Jesus’ time, “peace” was a tricky concept. The world’s version of peace, the Pax Romana, was a period of relative calm and stability after long years of civil war and threatening invasions. Most energy and attention were put into improving the lives of those living under the “protection” of the empire - building

roads and aqueducts, improving food supplies and sanitation, and opening new areas for trade and commerce.

But such “peace” was maintained only through the coercive power of Rome. There was little freedom to do as one pleased. Anything that challenged the stability (and prosperity) of the empire was dealt with severely by the most violent means. While tolerating a variety of religions, Rome insisted that the emperor be

accorded proper worship along with the local deities. This conflict with monotheistic Judaism led to the charges against Jesus (among others) and his eventual crucifixion, the typical method of executing threats to the empire’s stability and legitimacy. Eventually, Jerusalem itself was destroyed by the Emperor Titus in AD 70 in the name of “keeping the peace.”

And yet, another way of “peace” came with the incarnation of God in Jesus of Nazareth. Announced to shepherds outside Bethlehem, this “peace” is characterized as wholeness--the reconciliation and restoration of right relationships between God and humanity, and between humans both individually and corporately. This “peace” does not promise an absence of conflict or offense, but rather that such discord will not be permanent or final. There is more worth in coming together than in maintaining division.

Of course, this does not sit well with an imperial system of power or, for that matter, into any worldly political structure. We struggle today with any peace that seems to allow for grace, where the value of the relationship outweighs whatever advantage one can gain or lose. It seems to fly in the face of free market economics, democratic politics, and libertarian ethics. But there are voices calling for a moderation of such unbridled individualism. New books trumpet “Great Commission companies,” business communities which work not just to maximize profits but to support the “common good.” Experts in science and technology are more often likely to consider the implications of their ideas and advancements on those without the resources to make use of them. The role of families and communities in caring for others gains more and more interest among young

adults and teens who are interested in making the world a “better place.”

In the midst of turbulent times in our society, we can see the light of Christ breaking in, even if we may not recognize it as the “traditional” ways. And perhaps that is an indication of what the Spirit of God is up to-- new words, new expressions, new yearnings that lead us to seek the peaceable kingdom – that loving presence of God come down among us.

May the peace of the Christ child, born in a manger, unknown to the world, be with you.


Pr Mark

Staff GIfts

For those who want to recognize the extraordinary dedication of Good Shepherd’s faithful staff, please consider adding a bit extra to the offering plate or in the Vanco Mobile app in the next two weeks. You may designate an amount to any particular staff members, including Pastor Mark, Bonnie, Bertha, Kim, Paddy, Deidre, and Sarah; without a designation your gift will be shared equally among all.



No Sunday School Dec. 18, 25 or Jan 1

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