What's the first thing that you like to decorate to ring in the Christmas spirit at home? For a majority, it's the tree. For me, it's usually the table or the mantel that come first. I actually like styling the mantel early since it's the focal point in the main gathering space. This year, for our mantel, I decided on reflective metals, mirrors, a paper star from India, a vintage mirrored star I found at a flea market and candles (image below).
As I decorate, I think about what exactly embodies the "Christmas spirit"? As you prepare for Christmas in the midst of all that is going on in our world and lives, I'm sure you too may have pondered the meaning of this question. While celebrating the birth of Jesus, most of us are quite familiar with reflections on love, joy, hope and peace that His coming brings.
This year, I'm reflecting more on the meaning of Peace. I think most of us have lived long enough to know that peace really isn't the absence of conflict, pain or sorrow in our lives and the world. Wars and suffering around the world are all too real, and so are the wars and conflicts in our hearts as we
face life's disappointments and difficulties.
During this season, we are reminded of the coming of the One who is called Prince of Peace. The One who entered a world filled with pain, suffering and conflict, so that He could bring us eternal Peace with God. "For to us a child is born...and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." (Isa 9: 6,7).
This Prince of Peace promises, "My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (Jn 14:27)
How do we lay hold of this peace? While the exchange of alienation from God for eternal peace with God is ours the moment we put our trust in the Prince of Peace, peace in our warring hearts is an ongoing process. When trouble and fear enter our lives, there's One who can speak peace into our hearts in the midst of it all. Sometimes that peace can look like courage and endurance to keep going, at other times it can look like stillness and letting go. The exchange of conflict, disappointment and fear in our hearts for lasting peace is a process. It's a process of trust and deep honesty with the Prince of Peace, of giving Him the pieces that we can't fix ourselves, something we may have to do over and over. An exchange of control for peace from the One who knows the intricate details of our lives. Every time we are confronted with trouble in this present world, we can be assured that we can reach out to the Source of eternal peace. We can keep coming to Him because we are secure in the truth that He made a way for us to reach him boldly (Heb 4:16).
This Christmas, whether it's the lights on the tree, the mantel, or the lights in the neighborhood that get us a little more in the Christmas spirit, let's not forget to give our hearts afresh to the Prince of Peace. Let's be real with the One who can calm all the storms in our hearts, every time we come to Him, whether it's during "the most wonderful time of the year" or any other time. And, let's be assured that the One who calms our hearts with Peace, is also the One who will one day come back to establish lasting peace in our world.
"In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33)