Longing for peace

Melissa Lipsett reminds us that in a world of turmoil and conflict, peace is given to even the smelliest and least attractive members creation.


Reverend Melissa Lipsett is ordained in the Uniting Church and is Chief Operating Officer of Bible Society Australia Group. Melissa loves to open the Bible for people in a way that helps them to see that they invited into and are part of the greatest story of all time – that of God and his people. In her spare time Melissa loves to gather family, friends (old and new) for food and great conversation. When she thanks God for those gathered, she usually cries!

Longing for peace

In a world that is longing for peace it’s so wonderful to be reminded that Jesus came to bring true peace.

Daily Reading Luke 2:8-20

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘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 Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

As I write our world is at war.

It might not be a world war, but it is a world at war. There are armed conflicts happening in dozens of countries just hours away by plane. Millions of people live as refugees having been forced to flee conflict (or the absence of peace) of some kind. That may not be yours or my experience. Although personal peace is often hard to find too, isn’t it? We battle conflict in our families and workplaces, addiction and anxiety plague us. For some our lives are busy and fraught, while others are desperately lonely or grieving. Sadly, peace is elusive for many of us and we rightly yearn for it.

In a world that is longing for peace it’s so wonderful to be reminded that Jesus came to bring true peace. This was the very first declaration about his life: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’ The first recipients of this message were shepherds: some of the most lowly of people in that day. This immediately demonstrates that the Messiah of peace has indeed come for all people, not just for the pious, the self-proclaimed important or a select few!

In those days, shepherds were at the bottom of the social structure and were not highly regarded. They tended to be fairly solitary creatures. This isn’t surprising given that their access to hygiene and personal bathing facilities was likely to be very limited. Yes, they probably weren’t very clean! Their work was dirty and dangerous, exposing them to all the elements of every season.

And it’s to this smelly, socially isolated, lowly group of people that the angels come! Could there be any better way for God to demonstrate that the good news of peace that we all long for is not just for some, but for all people? For me this is such a profound illustration of God’s heart for the least, the lost and the lonely. After thousands of years dropping hints about his rescue plan for the human race, he finally heralded it with an announcement to a group of people who personify the lost and lowly in every possible way.

If Jesus came for all humanity, it not only means us and those most like us. It also means those whose lives have been torn apart by conflict of every sort, the millions displaced by war, the marginalised in our own cities and homes, the distressed and disturbed…. No wonder the angels burst into song and celebrated because they were declaring for then and for all time: peace is available for all! Jesus has come for all!

Are you lowly enough to accept the peace that only the Messiah, the Lord can bring?

Prayer: Lord, I know that only you can bring the true peace that I long for. May your spirit of peace fall afresh and rest on me today. Amen.

We Are Longing: An Advent series from Common Grace