I’ve grown strangely sentimental this winter. Some will not be with us as in years past. We’ll miss their presence, their laughter, their touch.
The holidays are often a time where we hold gently our grief and gratitude. Maybe our eyes have been swollen from tears this season, and we can’t distinguish whether it is from our deepest heartaches or greatest joys.
The words Jehovah Shalom translates to the “The Lord is our peace.” In Jewish culture, shalom is not only a name of God but it is a greeting to mark the beginning and end of a conversation. In Scripture, God refers to himself as the alpha and omega which are the letters marking the beginning and the end in the Greek alphabet. God marks the beginning and the end of the creation story, and somewhere in the messy middle, God sent Jesus. Our peace. To be with us in the midst of our unknowing, our pain and our celebrations. A baby, born with the animals and laid to rest in a feeding trough, wrapped in swaddling cloth.
Is this the kind of welcoming for a king? The one we would call the Messiah, Our Savior.
What kind of king is this? This is a king who knows heartache, rejection, and loneliness. This is a king who knows darkness and who draws intimately near to us when we are downtrodden and outcast.
The thing I love about Jesus is that he doesn’t often come in the way we would expect him. He enters in to our woundedness to restore. To cleanse. To heal. But it often takes a quiet heart to notice. Something we don’t often have.
So may we slow this season. May we embrace stillness and solitude and see the face of God in the people we encounter. May we allow Jesus to come to us, softly and quietly, so that he may be our peace. Our peace of mind and peace of heart. Our peace in unrest and the reconciler of brokenness.
Jesus meets us in the middle of the story. Jesus, our Prince of Peace – Shalom – and Jesus our Emmanuel – God with us. He didn’t promise easy living, but he did promise to make a way back to life with God. In God we find wholeness. Not because we do not have wounds, but with him we find contentment despite our dire circumstances.
I remember hearing a pastor say that every time you show up through those church doors, it could be someone’s best day or worst day. I’m not sure which is true for you, but oftentimes we are somewhere in the middle, and that’s exactly where Jesus meets us.
He’s a different kind of king, but maybe that’s exactly what this world needed.
So may you hold grief and gratitude close and bring them into the presence of God. May you not miss the moments before you because your mind is distracted by your circumstances. May you receive the gift of Jesus this Christmas. The gift of peace and God’s human presence to be with you even in this.