Christmas/Advent Discipleship

May the Force be with You!

Those angels outside Bethlehem could have been Jewish Jedis when they came with their greeting that was essentially, "May the Force be with you" -- that is, may the Peace or Shalom of God be with all upon whom God's favor rests (cf. Luke 2:14)!

I took my son, Peter, to see the latest Star Wars movie over Christmas break. I’m no fanatic; just a casual viewer up for any cinematic adventure that promises popcorn and a soda for $20…

Many folks like me who grew up in a liturgical church tradition are tempted to respond audibly whenever someone on-screen says, “May the Force be with you.” I can’t help muttering under my breath, “And also with you.” I can still hear the church organ piping up.

My Christmas Eve sermon was on my mind as I ate each 25-cent kernel and took each 50 cent sip. This Christmas I was hovering over the great theme of peace or shalom, and how badly our world needs to be doused with a firehose of heaven-sent shalom to put out all the fiery flames of fear and contentiousness.

Those angels outside Bethlehem could have been Jewish Jedis when they came with their greeting that was essentially, “May the Force be with you.” That is, may the Peace or Shalom of God be upon all on whom God’s favor rests (cf. Luke 2:14)!

In my search for my 1-word for 2020, peacemakers is near the top of the list as we approach a new election year. We need to no only “let the peace of Christ hold the highest elected office of our heart” (Col. 3:15 my paraphrase) as we wade through the sludge of political debate this year, we also need to become agents who actively bring the Shalom of Christ into the fray. “Blessed are the peace-makers” (Matt 5:9) not the peace-keepers who stick their heads in the sand and passively avoid tough topics, or the peace-takers who join in our new national pastime of partisan brow beating and stealing our peace of mind around the clock.

What does it look like to raise up an army of peacemakers who bring the politics and values of the Kingdom of God, and the attitude and posture of the Prince of Peace himself into our homes, workplaces and culture this year?

Sometimes a silly visual stays with us longer than a profound string of words. A Christian video game was recently released called I Am Jesus that puts the player in the body of Jesus. Instead of going around blasting hostiles with a machine gun, this game has Jesus’ glowing hands going around blessing, healing and casting out demons with his divine power.

As cheesy as this image is, I think we would do well to imagine ourselves each equipped with a “Shalom Blaster” as we go about our days. Are we dispensers of God’s healing peace, or are we adding fuel to the flames?

May the gentle Force of God’s Shalom be with you! And also with you!

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jeremy Berg is the founding pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Mound, Minnesota, and Professor of Theology at Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy is completing his doctorate in New Testament Context under Dr. Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary in Chicago. He holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary (2005) and B.A. from Bethel University (2002). He and his wife, Kjerstin, keep busy chasing around three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

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