8That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. 9 All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord’s glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. 10 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. 11This very day in King David’s hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. 12 You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.”
13 Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:
14 “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.”
Praise and Peace
It might be the reality of being a mom, but for some reason I find both of these concepts – praise and peace – kind of confusing.
What exactly is ‘praise’, anyways? Is it someone telling someone else they did a good job? Like, “that was a great dinner, mom”? If it is, how excited do you have to be before it counts as praise?
Because sometimes at my house it’s “thanks for dinner, mom” in the most monotone and insincere voice imaginable … after prodding them for their manners! And sometimes it’s “thanks for dinner, mom!” with excitement and genuine gratitude.
I don’t think I’m a bad cook, but “praise” seems to be a hard thing to understand and harder still to give. It takes recognizing that we needed the thing in the first place. It takes acknowledging that the other person gave something of themselves for us to have what we needed. And it takes time and emotional energy to stop and truly appreciate the other person for their gift to us.
And then there’s this ‘peace’ idea. Is ‘peace’ the kids not fighting for a few hours? Is ‘peace’ a few minutes to sip your coffee in the morning? Is ‘peace’ an unreachable goal in the Middle East? What does it mean for the angels to declare that there is ‘peace on earth [for] everyone who pleases God’?
Or is ‘peace’ the broken pieces coming back together into a whole? Is ‘peace’ the same as ‘Shalom’ – God’s Kingdom breaking in to create wholeness in our lives as we live life more and more the way God intended it to be lived?
Maybe We Should Join The Song?
See, I kind of feel like if the angels are singing it, then maybe we should join in with the song. But we can’t sing a song we don’t understand.
We can’t really praise God unless we recognize that we are beyond broken and desperately in need of the wholeness and Shalom that God had to offer.
We can’t really praise God unless we recognize that for God to come with skin on meant that the God of the Universe decided to limit Himself and place Himself into the midst of our brokenness for 33 years.
And we can’t really say we’ve praised God unless we take the time and emotional energy to stop and really notice that without this gift we would have no clue how to live, and the brokenness that we already feel overwhelmed by would be that much bigger and more broke without all of the hundreds and thousands and millions of ways that the Kingdom of God – God’s best way to live life – has been breaking in to our world for the past 2000 years!
- What does it mean for you today that God broke in with ‘Shalom’?
- How do you see ‘Shalom’ or ‘peace’ renewing and remaking you and your life and reality more and more into the way God intended it to be?
- How hard do you think it was for the God of the Universe to decide to show up in the midst of our brokenness? What do you think just the ‘showing up’ part of that ‘cost’ God?
- Try to take some time today to stop and write down 4 – 5 ways that you have seen God’s best way of living shape and mould and change you over the past few months.
- Using your reflections, can you take some time to praise God for the peace that has come?
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.