“…For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” – Ephesians 2
What does it mean when we think about peace at Christmas time? I wonder if the hope of peace at Christmas is something like a wish to be able to sit down with your feet up long enough to finish a cuppa while it’s hot. Perhaps that’s just me, but I suspect a lot of us think of peace in a cursory sense – I want a bit of peace, I want to feel calmer, I’d like things to be easier and not a struggle.
But when I stop long enough to think what peace is really about, my mind goes to Ephesians 2; “…For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” This beautiful passage talks about Jesus reconciling Jews and Gentiles to one another, but I think we would be fairly safe to apply much of the passage to any two groups. What I see in this passage is less about my own well-being and calm and more about reconciliation. This peace is hard work to achieve – barriers have to be destroyed and walls of hostility removed. Rather than a break from striving and struggle, this peace comes at great personal cost to Jesus.
In my work I get go places and meet all sorts of people and hear about a range of struggles. It’s some great reality feedback for me, when I am tempted to think that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection happened to make life better for me. One such place is Mozambique, a country where people have lived through years of conflict from independence and civil wars that have left scars in families and communities.
I was privileged to meet women who are part of a community project there run by our partner organisation, Oasis Mozambique. The team at Oasis are people who are motivated by knowing this Jesus who brings hard won peace, and they are his messengers of peace where they work. One lady I met talked about how Oasis helped the to unite the community as a family, working together to care for one another; no longer a community thrown together by years of conflict, but a place of peace.
At Christmas I really do want the feet up with a cuppa kind of peace, but if I think about it, really think about it, the peace Jesus brings is so much wider and deeper. It’s not just for me or for you but for us, for humans doing life together, for communities that are criss-crossed with barriers and a world with one dividing wall of hostility after another. Jesus, whose coming we remember at Christmas, came to show us what that peace looks like with his life and win it for us through his death and resurrection. The small baby brings big peace.