It is 46 years since Cyclone Tracy hit the northern Australian city of Darwin, on that fateful Christmas Eve in 1974. I always remember that event at Christmas time because it was that storm that brought us to Australia in the first place, to work on the reconstruction of Darwin.
On that night, the Christmas festivities were well underway as that massive, brooding, menacing giant hurricane slowly moved over the Arafura Sea. Then in the darkness, like a lion pouncing on its unsuspecting prey, it made its final and unnoticed turn, and with 300 plus kph winds churned its way across the city creating a frenzied turmoil of chaos, destruction and death.
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? In this Covid-shattered year, 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’, as many of us who have lived in cyclone-prone zones know, something amazing can be experienced. Even as furious winds rage around in a destructive violence, in the centre there is total calm. The wind dies away, the rain ceases, blue sky appears; 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 at Christmas, when we have a personal relationship with God through that person, the ‘Eye of Peace’, who entered into our space-time in the Manger in Bethlehem.
So perhaps it worthwhile to intentionally set aside a period of time this Christmas; a time to take stock, to seek and find the ‘eye of Peace’ in the oft-raging storms of life, in a world in turmoil, the Peace of Christmas which is the Peace of Eternity. The Peace that is not dependent on the transitory circumstances of life; the Peace only to be found, not in religion, or Christmas religious rituals, or Carol singing, or all the material ‘stuff’ we in the West might receive, but in Jesus, the Christ, the Manger-child, the Eye of Peace.