Prince of Peace

A Christmas Day message from Free Church of Scotland Moderator Rev. Bob Akroyd.

As I write these words, there is a brief truce in Gaza. Aid is going in and hostages are being exchanged for prisoners. As you read these words, war may be raging again.

It is too depressing to listen to the news. Communication is immediate but the human condition is unchanged. Violence, war, catastrophe, and anger are just too much for me – and I am just an observer. So many are caught up in devastation and carnage.

In the midst of global catastrophes, many of us have experienced our own profound and painful personal tragedies. Places are empty at the Christmas dinner table. Maybe the table isn’t even set anymore. Hospital visits are frequent and evenings are long and lonely.

And yet there is good news. There is hope. Joy is possible even through the tears of sorrow. Jesus never asks us to pretend that all is well. We know all is not well. Jesus comes to this dark world and brings light. He comes into our despair bearing the gift of hope. In a world where death abounds, Jesus offers us two wonderful gifts, ‘abundant life’ (John 10:10) and ‘eternal life’ (John 10:28) This is why the Angel joyfully announced the good news:

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:10–11

We need good news more than ever. I was reminded that the gospel (the good news of Jesus) does two things. The gospel saves us. The gospel also changes us. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, you need Jesus to forgive you, to save you, and to set you free. He makes you part of God’s family (John 1:12–13). You become a child of God. As a Christian, we need Jesus to change us from the inside out. Life is tough and the Christian life is no different. Jesus is the beginning, middle and end of our faith and our life.

As the current ceasefire draws to a close, renewed warfare looms. I am reminded of the words of Isaiah as he anticipated Jesus’ arrival,

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is this child. Jesus is this son. Humanity is adept at declaring war. Jesus declares peace. Jesus promises that one day his reign of peace will extend throughout the earth. I pray that as we survey the ravages war that we might turn for help to Jesus, our ‘Prince of Peace.’ His peace is powerful and eternal, and not just a temporary truce.

With warm good wishes for a Happy Christmas. May God bless you with his presence, his goodness, and his love.

Your Friend,

Rev. Bob Akroyd (Free Church of Scotland Moderator)