It is 41 years since Cyclone Tracy hit the northern Australian city of Darwin, on that momentous Christmas Eve in 1974. The Christmas festivities were well underway as that massive hurricane moved over the Arafura Sea and then in the darkness made its final and unnoticed turn, and with 300 kph winds churned its way across the city creating a frenzied turmoil of chaos and destruction.
I often feel Christmas is a bit like that, as though we’ve been hit by a cyclone with all the frenzy of shopping, parties, breakups holiday plans, family gatherings etc. Actually it often feels more like ‘stress-mass’. The bible story about Christmas is supposed to be about peace yet for many life itself is often more like living in a cyclone; so busy surviving the storm; no time think what this ‘frenzy’ is all about, and where is this supposed peace of Christmas anyway? Wouldn’t we just like some of that?
If we are brutally honest many of us may have to admit we do not really have that Christmas peace, and we struggle to know where to find it. The image of the cyclone however may give us a clue, for even in the violence of a cyclone peace is to be found, for in the ‘eye’ something amazing can be experienced, even as the winds rage around in a destructive violence, in the centre there is total calm, blue sky, rain ceases, indeed it is a picture of peace in turmoil
So in the turmoil of our lives, and in a world where there is anything but peace it may be time again to stop and reflect on the Christmas peace the angels told the shepherds about (Luke 2:14). That is the peace of God which “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), the peace that only a relationship with God can give.
But how can this peace be accessed? The answer is to be found in the manger. The only way to find peace in the storms of life is to truly get to know that child in the manger. Yes it’s great to sing Christmas carols about him but that is not enough; it is great to know about Him but that is not enough, we will only get that peace with God, the peace which affects the whole of life, not just Christmas, when we have a personal relationship with God through that person who entered into our space-time in the manger in Bethlehem.
So perhaps it would be worthwhile to use this Christmas time to take stock, to seek and find the ‘eye of peace’ in the often raging storms of life, in a world in turmoil, the peace of Christmas which is the peace of eternity. The peace only to be found, not in religion, or Christmas religious rituals, but in Jesus, the Christ, the manger child.