Font Size » Large | SmallBy Julie Cole The problem with peace is it’s quiet. If you aren’t careful, you’ll miss it. At Christmastime the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is celebrated – but if you aren’t careful, you can miss Him. Instead of peace, a typical Christmas season in the U.S. is ushered in by “hustle and bustle” and “Black Friday.” World events also clamor for our attention. Escalating tensions, riots, terrorism, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods scream at us from the front pages of our papers and in the headline news on TV. It’s easy for fear to take root. Where is the peace? The time of Jesus’ birth was also a season of great unrest. Religious factions fought and often caused rioting. The Jewish people were ruled and heavily taxed by Rome. A Roman decree brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to pay their taxes and be counted. Amid the crowds of people in town for the census, there was no room for Mary to have her baby. Instead, He was born in a barn, most likely shared by animals, and laid in a manger for a bed. Peace came to rest where room was made for Him. A multitude of angels made Jesus’ birth announcement, lavishly declaring “Peace on Earth” to a few shepherds quietly tending their sheep at night. They immediately went to find this baby in Bethlehem. Magi from the East who studied the skies followed a star which brought them to Bethlehem where they found and worshiped young Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Peace was found by those who focused on and sought after it. The peace of Christ is a powerful force. Scripture says it passes understanding. That means we can feel this peace even when it doesn’t make sense. But true to His nature, God doesn’t force it on us. It’s a fruit of abiding – staying closely connected to Him. Every Christmas my family brings out our boxes of familiar decorations which we place at various locations around our house. We don’t decorate as elaborately as some do, but there is a specific room in our home where we set up the tree with twinkling lights, a wreath, and a manger scene. My youngest daughter, Deborah, loves to put on Christmas music, turn off all the houselights and sit on the couch while we watch the twinkling lights. Each year when she invites me to sit and enjoy the glow of the twinkling lights with her, I usually feel like I don’t have time to “just sit.” However, each time I do, I’m surprised at how the fog of the busyness lifts and I gradually begin to feel the warmth and peace that only Christ’s presence can bring. I just have to make space for it. My mentor used to say, “What you focus on, you make room for.” I think of this phrase often during the Christmas season. Focusing takes time. It’s more than a glimpse. It’s studying something and turning it over until it becomes more clear. What am I focused on this Christmas season? What things are taking the most space in my head and heart? Are they temporary? Are they eternal? Am I consumed with shopping for presents or enjoying Christ’s presence? The words of the carol “Joy to the World” reflect my hope for this Christmas. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing. While there will undoubtedly be lots of hustle and bustle all around us this season, we have the opportunity to make room within our hearts for the peaceful presence of Christ to rest. I don’t want to miss it!