Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Peace on Earth

Peace: Classic Readings for Christmas by Stephen J Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is Christmas about?  Is it about presents or a bearded obese man squeezing down chimneys or awkward meals or public school pageants that attempt to walk the PC road of inclusivity mixed with nostalgia-lite(all the fluff and none of the substance)?

Or is it about peace on Earth?  Or should I say, Peace on Earth.

Nichols recounts a story early on in this work about “The Miracle on the Western Front”.  I vaguely remembered pieces of the story but was struck anew by this recounting.  This Christmas truce of 1914 left opposing forces, who hours earlier would only rank “staying alive” higher on their to-do list than killing this enemy,  singing together and playing football together and enjoying peace in the midst of battle, if only for a short time.

But this peace was not lasting.  As any man-made peace is sure to do, this peace ended.  The violence and bloodshed resumed and the war, and wars, would proceed as usual.  Christmas is not about a truce.  It is not about a hiatus of bloodshed, it is about peace.  Peace with each other and peace with God, accomplished by His Son who came into the world via a virgin and a manger.

“The birthday of the Lord is the birthday of peace.”—Pope Leo I

But this story of peace does not begin in a manger and Nichols does well in showing this.  It does not begin with an angelic announcement, but rather the Christmas story has its roots in eternity and grows throughout history—from the “Let there be” of God, to the Garden of Eden and on.

Nichols takes the reader from promise, to fulfillment, to reflection—seeing the manger from Genesis to Revelation, the incarnation from cover to cover.  Nichols tells this story by blending Scripture readings, hymns and quotes.  The reader will be encouraged to worship by the beauty of the content and the presentation.

Nichols chapter on “Keeping Christmas” helps the reader to develop traditions to keep the focus of Christmas firmly set on the God of Christmas.  He gives some Scriptures to read alongside carols and introduces the practice of Advent with a month’s worth of Advent Sunday devotionals to do as a family.  He also leaves space for families to record traditions or future traditions that they desire to develop.

Christmas is about the Lord and how He made peace with a rebellious creation.  Nichols work leads the reader to this and leaves them worshiping in the midst of this truth.  This is a great book to bring out every November and leave on the coffee table throughout the holiday season and a work to enjoy throughout the year.

I received a copy of this book to review.

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