Advent is the season for family, friends, presents, good food, and of course, Jesus. Advent comes from the latin which means "coming" - so we both look back at the joy of Christ's first coming and prepare for and anticipate Christ's return (sounds better than wait, because waiting sounds like what I did as a kid when my mom would shop). As you and I anticipate Christ's return, I want to share the Christmas story and look at some verses you might not have highlighted in your own Bible.
Some lowly shepherds were just hanging out the first time anyone heard about a baby being born who was to be the savior of the world. Well, not just hanging out, they lived in the fields (vs 8). Anyway. An angel appears and says "Do not be afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Lord (vs 10-11)." Suddenly a whole bunch of angels appear and they sing (in vs 14) "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" (NRSV)
I hope this Christmas you won't skip over the fact that the angels heralded peace among all the people with Christ's first coming. For me, (and you might be different), I have a hard time praising God for the Savior's arrival and then also saying we should be in fights around the world. Peace. Christ's coming means peace among all the people. Sure, you could say that peace is for those whom God favors - but does God only favor us? Wait a sec, we aren't in peace in our world anyway! Even if you don't think Iraqi's or Afgani's deserve peace, isn't that one of the reasons we say war is okay? Because we are bringing Jesus and Democracy (not always in that order btw) to these muslim extremists?
Christ's birth as a baby should tell us something about how God wants His followers to get things done in this world. He didn't come in, guns blazing (he could have, and that day is fast approaching), but instead came in one of the most peaceful ways possible. Granted - Jesus said he came not to bring peace, but to divide families (Luke 12:51-53), and I know that the Gospel will destroy the present order of things (Kingdom of God). This world will not give up peacefully. But that doesn't mean Christians (or Christ) responds to violence with violence. Jesus doesn't come in and slap people around. He actually comes in and shares the truth in love, violence is always the RESPONSE, not the initiate. Christians should respond in love, forgiveness, grace, whatever you want to call it. (Loving your enemies is a mark of a Christian (Luke 6:35))
It means we have some tough questions to ask this Advent. What DO we think about the wars we've started? How can I support our country/troops and still work for God's peace? How can I pray for peace this Christmas and live it out in my life? We can do all these things and more through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Who is coming into this world in a very real way this Advent.
I hope God will speak to you this season. Merry Christmas!