The Gift of Peace
by PASTOR ROBERT ECKERT
Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church
As translated in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible, the first two verses of Psalm 133 go like this: “It is truly wonderful when relatives live together in peace. It is as beautiful as olive oil poured on Aaron’s head and running down his beard and the collar of his robe.”
That second part of the quote, about olive oil on Aaron’s head, doesn’t necessarily say much to us these days. For the writer of the Psalm, however, it was a beautiful thing. Aaron was a high priest, and pouring aromatic oil on a person dedicated to religious service was a common ritual back in the day. The writer of the Psalm is telling us that just as there is a sweet perfume from the oil that consecrates a priest, family harmony is fragrant and holy.
These verses come to mind during a time of year when relatives living together in peace can be a rare commodity. Movies and sitcoms abound that poke fun at the antics of dysfunctional families during the holidays. For comedic effect they exaggerate our foibles and idiosyncrasies, but the underlying truth of how we pick and jab at those closest to us can be harsh and painful.
Do you dread going to see Aunt Millie? Are you happy that your brother has to work Christmas morning because he’s so cynical that he takes the fun out of everything? Is Grandma likely to be her bitter, critical self? Is this any way to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace?
The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah are frequently quoted during the season of Advent. He’s the one who coined the phrase “Prince of Peace.” He also looked forward to a time when “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (NIV). That’s a picture of relatives living together in peace and then some!
Want to give a gift that will last this Christmas? How about the gift of peace? How about greeting Aunt Millie with a sincere hug, or taking some cookies to your brother at work, or just letting Grandma have her say and when she’s all done say “I love you.”
The fruit of the Spirit of God is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)—give your family a basketful.