Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27


This young child was mesmerized by the holy moment, singing a Hanukkah song by the menorah. She reminds me of the way I felt as I sang Silent Night with my family, in our case celebrating Christmas Eve. I was around the same age as this girl, and probably just as sensitive.

Our family lived in a tiny flat in Amsterdam. It was the early fifties. Dad had lit big candles on the mantle, as well as the tiny candles on the Christmas tree. (Yes, Holland was slow to start using electric lights for trees.) The little flames created jewels of light in the darkened room. Bits and pieces of memory from that evening linger: mandarin oranges, small chocolate wreaths covered with sugary sprinkles, speculaas cookies. I was touched by the quietness – the magic of it. Even as a child so young I felt the holiness of the moment as we sang Stille Nacht.

At bedtime, my sister and I blew out some of the candles on the tree, the ones that were safe for us to reach. My dad lifted us up to blow out the other candles. Then it was time for bed. I went willingly, ready to settle down, feeling safe.

I long for peaceful moments like this around Christmas, and isn’t that true for most of us? What is it that makes us long for a peace that surpasses all understanding, particularly at this time of year? Why does my message in Christmas cards to friends almost always include a wish for peace for them?

Peace is a central message for Christmas. In Isaiah Jesus was referred to as the “Prince of Peace” and when the angels heralded the infant Jesus’ arrival in Luke 2:14 they sang:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Peace is precious around Christmas, at the time when there is so much busyness and stress. Oh to be able to just sit with candles lit and listen to gentle Christmas carols!

Jesus’ words in John 14:27 calm me, especially at this time of the year. This verse does not come from Bethlehem, from the manger, though. Jesus gave this promise to His disciples from the Upper Room, near the end of His life on earth. He is the Prince of Peace.

The wishes for peace that we send to our friends are good and encouraging. But we, as part of the world, do not have the ability to give true peace. Only Jesus can do that. When the message comes directly from Jesus it means so much more: “My peace I give to you,” He says to us. Do you feel the sense of well-being and wholeness? Do you feel your pain and anxiety lessen?

The beautiful thing is that we can experience God’s peace every day – not only when we sing Silent Night, not only at Christmas time. God is available to us whenever we spend time with Him, talking to Him, listening to what He says to us through His Word.

Thank you, Lord, for the peace you bring to us, a peace not available anywhere else.


(First published in 2014)