Every year in the former capital city of Turku in Finland, a declaration is read in the Old Great Square at noon on December 24th.
It is a declaration of Christmas peace.
“Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour;
and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully,
because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behaviour shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty
and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately.
Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.”
The proclamation is accompanied by musicians and fanfare.
The tradition began in the 1320s and has taken place nearly every year since then. (Except the years of the Greater Wrath in the 1700s when the city was under Russian occupation. And the war years of 1917 and 1939. And the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.)
This morning we are going to look at a far greater declaration of peace in Luke 2.
In Luke 2 the lives of a group of ordinary laborers are changed forever when heaven is opened over their field to reveal the glory of God and the peace of Christmas.
On that night the commonplace became sacred.
A group of shepherds were transformed from ordinary laborers on the clock to awestruck worshippers, faces still glowing with the reflection of heaven’s glory.
The field transformed from ordinary land riddled with the sights and smells of livestock to a portal into eternity, air still echoing with the sound of heaven’s song.
A barnyard feeding trough transformed from a dirty container full of hay and oats and grain and the residue of hundreds of tongues to the throne of the king of kings.
From heaven’s vantage point, things on earth are not what they seem.
The impossible is easy.
The commonplace is sacred.
Surprises and setbacks and are just part of the plan.
Christianity is good news, not good advice.
Every human proclamation or plan to achieve peace will eventually fail. Sin, the great enemy of our peace is beyond human solution.
- A real, eternal moral law which condemns us
- An unrelenting conscience which repeats the laws disapproval.
- Inner principle of sin which enslaves us.
- Spiritual powers which reign over us and oppress us.
- Interpersonal, international, interracial conflict
- The wrath of God which hangs over our heads.
- The imminence of death which threatens us with a great dark void.
Through the perfect life, the substitutionary death and the resurrection of that baby, the power of sin would be destroyed.
- Every minute stipulation of the law satisfied.
- Every whisper of our conscience purified and stilled.
- Every last drop of the wrath of God poured out.
- Every chain of addiction and dependence broken.
- Every last spot of the stain of sin erased.
- Every weapon of our spiritual enemies has been disarmed.
- Every circumstances reigned in and mastered and a servant for our good.
In Jesus we find peace, a peace that transcends our circumstances. A peace that can’t be interrupted by wars or pandemics. In Jesus we find everyday peace.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown