The second week of Advent looks at ‘peace’ as its theme. Peace is one of the central messages of Christmas; the message of the angels to the shepherds was ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’ (Luke 2:14) Zechariah, rejoicing in the birth of his miracle son, John, reflected that God’s light would then ‘shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.’ (Luke 1:79) Peace is, therefore, a central theme in the Christmas story.

But peace is not simply the absence of war. We live in times when conflict and war appear to be inescapable, and the current situation between Russia and Ukraine adds to the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty people experience. Any student of history will tell you that wars have been going on for many years and that conflict seems inevitable in some part of the world. Jesus Himself spoke of wars and rumours of wars (Matt 24:6), so it would seem we cannot expect to live in a world without wars. Nonetheless, we can still know peace, even if there is no peace around us.

The path of peace which Christmas shines a light on is ultimately an inner peace and peace with God which gives us n eternal perspective to life. Paul says, ‘since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.’ (Rom 5:1) Inner peace and peace with God are great blessings available to us all.