I’ll make a covenant of peace with them. I’ll banish fierce animals from the country so the sheep can live safely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. I’ll make them and everything around my hill a blessing. I’ll send down plenty of rain in season—showers of blessing! The trees in the orchards will bear fruit, the ground will produce, they’ll feel content and safe on their land, and they’ll realize that I am Godwhen I break them out of their slavery and rescue them from their slave masters. No longer will they be exploited by outsiders and ravaged by fierce beasts. They’ll live safe and sound, fearless and free. I’ll give them rich gardens, lavish in vegetables—no more living half-starved, no longer taunted by outsiders. They’ll know, beyond doubting, that I, God, am their God, that I’m with them and that they, the people Israel, are my people. Decree of God, the Master. ~Ezekiel 34:25-31
Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.
The not-quite-put-together group of squirmy middle schoolers and high schoolers scooted onto the risers in a small mountain-town gym.
Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild.
The harmonies were not perfect. The words were somewhat jumbled. There were some teeth pickers and some whisperers. Concert black was interpreted in many ways, and there was some shuffling as sixth grade girls tried to stand by their friends rather than in their pre-assigned places.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
And yet, in the imperfection of the musical presentation, hearts were stirred. Overtly sentimental grandmothers and principals who had sat through their share of choir concerts alike were unexpectedly touched.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
In the midst of a busy season, under the buzzing gym lights, tucked in at the end of a chaotic semester of training unruly children to sing something profound happened.
A small ray of light shone forth that night. The dawn of redeeming grace was glimmering. And though they didn’t recognize it, though they didn’t know it, this group of kids were bringing peace. Peace to people who didn’t even know they needed it.
The Son of God was born, placed in a manger, rocked to sleep by his bewildered mother. And with that birth a covenant of peace was sealed. A covenant meaning that no matter who we were, and no matter what we did, it would not be broken. Our merciful God knew the wayward ways of our hearts, God knew that we would go through days and weeks and months without even remembering Him. And yet the covenant would remain intact. The Lord would continue to bless, to care for, to pour out His peace on His people.
Most people in the gym that December night had not come with God in mind. They were not there to keep the covenant, nor had their lives been that of devotion to their God. And yet, in the most imperfect and unexpected means, God invaded their night that evening and without even noticing Him they were blessed by His peace.
It’s the nature of God. It’s the story of Christmas. Even in the midst of rebellion, of disobedience, of stubborn and cold hearts, He chooses to fulfill His covenant with His people. He chooses to bless His people with peace. In the places we least expect it, through the crudest of deliveries, He reaches down and gives us peace.