Undoubtedly we will all hear one of the greatest works of musical art in history this Christmas season, “The Messiah” written by Handel. Handel really is responsible for making Isaiah 9:6 a common Christmas passage. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Just as suredly as we will hear this verse (maybe in song form)we will here the common Christmas desire of so many, “Peace on earth.” Of course peace on this earth seems like only a faint dream against the harsh fog of war. We may wake up Christmas morning, open our presents, drink our coffee, and smile pleasently as we read the Christmas story while our loyal soldiers defend us with not so pleasent holiday duties. Thank God for those loyal soldiers in Afghanastan and Iraq and around the world who protect us while we wallow in the frivolity of American Christmas. But I wonder whether there was “peace on earth” just under 2,000 years ago at the first Christmas. Was Joseph at peace when he heard the news that he would have to make a four day journey to the little town of Bethlehem with his new bride who was 9 months pregnant? Obviously this census was merely a means of the cruel Roman dictator to collect even more tribute from the conquered people. Was Mary at peace trying to live down the shame and reproach of being pregnant before marriage? Surely the tongues wagged and lips gossiped. Of course there could be no peace for the Mother when the contractions got closer and closer and more painful and more painful. The only available “delivery room” was a cave with the stench of cow and sheep manure. And so The Prince of Peace came into this world in far from peaceful circumstances. But surely now that He was here, He would bring an end to wars and dictators. The twelve close friends of our Prince of Peace could not bear to hear his words when he spoke of dying. Did He not understand that He was supposed to lead a revolt against these Romans and set up a peaceful rule? But 33 years after he was born in such a humble place, He died in far worse place. The Messiah was born between sheep and cows and died between criminals. And so today we look at our current events and we cry out for the Prince of Peace, but He appears to not be listening, for we still have war, hurricanes, tornados, terrorists, and murderers. Our thinking is damaged, damaged by sin and despair, for this Prince of Peace did not come to bring earthly peace at this time; but Peace in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. No peace was ever gained without the sacrifice of others. The Prince of Peace brings peace and contentment to the heart of those who will accept His sacrifice on that cruel Roman cross. “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (Colossians 1:20). As we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, we must not forget that no matter what battle we are involved in (figurative or literal) the Prince of Peace rules in the hearts of His children, those who have accepted the wonderful gift of forgiveness of sin.