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    The First Noel

    In a world of violence and pain, Jesus came to bring peace. December 16, 2015 by Commissioner Susan McMillan
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    As I began to write this article, I tried to imagine the first Christmas. Christmas carols and TV shows paint a picture of a serene “peace on earth” experience—shiny angels, gentle shepherds, fluffy lambs, stately Wise Men and a little baby who doesn't make a sound. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a poor representation of the time that must be. Jesus wouldn't have needed to bring “peace on earth” if that were the reality already.

    History tells us that Israel was suffering under the oppression of Roman conquerors. Not only that, but many civil servants were corrupt, profiting from their position. The religious leaders were also looking for ways to take advantage of the faithful and had allowed the temple to become a marketplace for unethical business practices.

    People who were infirm or disabled were shunned, as though they were a danger to others. Women and children were treated as belongings rather than as people. Many were destitute, especially when they ended up alone, widowed or abandoned. People were trafficked, sold into slavery. The vulnerable were left on their own to try to survive.

    It wasn't much like the softened Christmas image we tend to create—in fact, it was a lot more like the reality of the world today. Just think about the past year or so. Ebola ravaged the nation of Liberia. A human tide of refugees flooded Europe as people fled conditions so bad they were willing to risk anything for a chance at a better future. Many died in the process. Many more suffer from hunger, lack of shelter and being constantly on the move.

    An earthquake in Chile, school shootings in the United States, floods along the eastern seaboard of North America and forest fires in the west. Add in a few tropical storms, drought, a tsunami … well, you see my point.

    The world that needed a Saviour—a Prince of Peace—on that first Christmas night is the same world that needs him now. And the wonder of it all is that he came to earth to bring peace for everyone—not just those of the first century, but people of all nations and all races, in all times.

    In Scripture, we read: “For God says, 'At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.' Indeed, the 'right time' is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT).

    The time to change your outlook is now. The time to receive Jesus into your heart—the baby born to be the Saviour of the world—is now. Why not make this Christmas the one that has real meaning for you, the one when you join forces with the Prince of Peace? While the storms may continue to rage and while there may continue to be strife in the world, in your heart you will know peace as you walk with Christ.

    Is there hope for our world? Of course there is! And his name is Jesus, Prince of Peace, for all time.

    Commissioner Susan McMillan is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. Follow her at facebook.com/susanmcmillantc and twitter.com/salvationarmytc.

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