A sermon given during the 10:00am Choral Eucharist, by The Rt Rev’d Chris McLeod, on the 25th of December 2022.

Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth

As we come to another Christmas we are confronted with a world, yet again, in need of the message of peace. For the last 3 years we have been living with uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are still living with it. On top of that we have a war between Russia and Ukraine which confuses us all.  There are still many wars and acts of violence throughout the world. Many of which do not make the headlines.

My apologies for starting on a negative note. I think Christmas is a wonderfully joyous event, by the way. Yet, in the background is this actual world we live in.

‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth …’ The angels’ message is both proclamation and a prayer. But more than that it is an invitation to live peacefully. The angels’ statement is a couplet. There is the giving God the Glory together with the message of peace on earth. It seems to me that we cannot have one with the other. They go together. Glory to God and Peace.

For many of us peace means the absence of war, and that certainly is a very good thing. However, peace is not just the absence of something, but it is also the presence of something. The absence of war does not necessarily mean we are living in peace. Tensions can be easily inflamed, and violence and war can easily be renewed. There can be uneasy truces, which are fragile, and tensions can be easily provoked.  This peace that I am talking about is the peace that Jesus speaks about in John 14:27

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid’.

No, the peace Jesus speaks of, and what the angels proclaim is the peace of presence rather than absence. So, what is this peace of presence that I have alluding to? Well simply put, God. This is the first part of the Angels’ proclamation – ‘Glory to God in the Highest …’ Giving God the Glory, making a space for God is the peace of presence – God’s presence. The peace that Jesus promises to give is his own presence through the Holy Spirit.

This is at the heart of the Christmas proclamation. God comes into his world through the Christ child, Jesus, to rule our hearts and minds with his peace, and to bring peace to the world in which we live.  It might seem unpopular to suggest that real peace can only be found in God, but I suspect this what we are drawn each year to celebrate this strange story of the birth of Jesus. We know that there is more to this story than the birth of a baby boy in a middle eastern country 2000 years ago. We know that this story makes a difference to how the world can live, and how we can live, now.

So, how do we do it?

  1. Entering the story of God’s peace. St Paul says a prayer in Philippians 4: 7 that forms the blessing at the end of the regular celebration of the Eucharist: The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’.
  • It might be too naïve to think that peace will suddenly be poured out upon the earth in 2023, but we can make it our own and spread a little of it in the world we live in, and we can earnestly pray for it. At the very least we can let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts as St Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians 3: 15. We can be the peaceful change we want to see!


May your Christmas be one of peace and please join with me in praying and working for peace in our world. May you Christmas be filled with love, joy, and peace.

Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth