It was probably a Christmas carol being played in the background that triggered my thoughts of angels in the Christmas story and the idea of goodwill. What was it they said? ‘Hark the herald angels sing…!” Anyway, after the concept rattled round the edges of my brain for a few days, I decided to go re-read the story and find out. So, I googled (what else!) the words ’til I found the right bit. It’s in the gospel of Luke (chapter 2 verse 14 if you’re interested):
Glory to God, Peace on earth, Goodwill to people’
That’s my summary of what they sang. There’s a dizzying range of different versions available, and any number of angles on what it exactly means. It seems pretty good news to me. I like the idea of peace on Earth, and I’d appreciate some goodwill too. What about you?
This isn’t a post with a religious focus. It’s more an invitation to consider whether there’s anything you and I can do to promote peace or goodwill in our little parts of the earth this Christmas. That’s assuming you think such values are worthwhile. I’m certainly keen to promote them.
I liked the Cambridge definition of peace the best: “Freedom from war and violence; especially when people live and work together happily without disagreements.” “Friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitudes” was the online meaning of goodwill. Synonyms include benevolence, compassion, kind-heartedness and consideration.
Do you want to live in peace?
Unlike many, I don’t think living in peace necessitates the absence of disagreements. Which is lucky, given I don’t want to give up my opinions and I’m equally certain you don’t wish to give up yours. But peace does require a certain amount of wanting good for all parties. Choosing to leave behind unnecessary old hurts, to work issues through to forgiveness and to seek win-win outcomes are challenges for me within this season. How can my words and actions indicate to those around me my intentions are for their good as well as mine?
How can we show goodwill?
It’s probably obvious that goodwill’s a subset of peace really, perhaps applied when there’s no obvious threat of war. Showing consideration for hassled shop assistants and extending kind-heartedness to those I find myself standing in long queues with at checkouts is one place I’ve decided to start. Smiling at neighbours; having them over for a drink (and to eat some of my chocolates!); looking out for someone in need of a smile or a hand. These are options for me too, before I step into my inner circle of friends and family. It’s easy to be friendly and cooperative with my mates. And I dealt with the difficult relation challenges last week. Perhaps you can extend some goodwill there, as well?
Goodwill challenges for us all
I’m not in any great position to deal with the hate spewing out of some people’s mouths. Or the war in far off countries. I am, however, well positioned to make a healthy contribution within my little circle. I can create a little bubble of peace and goodwill in my part of the world. You could do the same. And maybe yours and mine and other’s bubbles will join, making something worthwhile. I extend an invitation for you to do just that, along with my best wishes (and goodwill!) to you and yours for a blessed Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year.