In this second week of Advent, our theme is peace. So, that makes me think about the many names we have for Jesus, one being Prince of Peace. In the book of Isaiah, Jesus is called the Prince of Peace long before He arrived in Bethlehem. Sar Shalom is the Hebrew form of Prince of Peace. He is our Savior, Jesus.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace [Sar Shalom]. –Isaiah 9:6 NLT
Mary’s Life-Changing Encounter with an Angel
In the gospel of Luke 1:26-38, we meet Mary, who was just a teenager. But she has a life-changing encounter with the angel Gabriel. At first, she is greatly troubled, but Gabriel tells her not to be afraid. And Mary, in humility and peace, receives the unbelievable news and quietly listens for more.
31You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33And he will reign over Israelforever; his Kingdom will never end!”
How is that? Most of us would frantically ask, “Why me?!”
Now, Mary was only engaged to be married to Joseph. So the news that she would become pregnant should have terrified the unmarried virgin, Mary. After all, young, unmarried women could be stoned for less in those days. But Mary didn’t ask why. And maybe that’s because Gabriel answered the question on that day when he first came to Mary, saying, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
She was highly favored by God and chosen for a unique purpose. Mary would be the mother of our Savior, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Sar Shalom.
Could it be that God, in His infinite wisdom, prepared Mary’s humble spirit long before that meeting with an angel? God knew beforehand what Mary’s life would be like as Jesus’ mother. She would suffer shame at first for her condition, joy in knowing who her child was, and Mary would suffer great loss watching her beloved Son die on a cross for our sins.
In peace, Mary accepted God’s favor, only interested in how she would conceive.
34Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
That would have been hard for anyone to understand, but Mary still listens.
36What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37For the word of God will never fail.”
The angel Gabriel revealed two miracles in just a few minutes. First, Mary, a virgin, learns she would become pregnant, then her much older cousin, Elizabeth, is already six months pregnant. Only God can arrange these things.
From a human perspective, and considering Mary’s circumstances, her emotions should have been reeling with fear, anxiety, and confusion. But that’s not what we glean in this verse.
“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. –Luke 1:38
Then she set out to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.
The Prince of Peace
Consider this, the Prince of Peace already imparted His peace to Mary, even before she became pregnant. Is this what allowed her to fully and peacefully surrender to God’s calling on her life? I like to think this is the way it happened.
What would it take for you to fully and peacefully surrender to God’s calling on your life?
Our Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace, has the power to bring His peace into any circumstance. So He calmed what should have been Mary’s sea of emotions instead, bringing peace into her surrendered heart.
Later, Jesus, preparing the disciples for His departure, promised them the Holy Spirit and His own peace to calm their hearts. And, by the way, He can do the same for you.
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.–John 14:27
You see, the peace of Christ is born through a personal relationship with Him. All you must do is, by faith, simply receive the Prince of Peace as your savior. Then, experience the peace of Christ in your heart.
Hymn of the week – Silent Night
In 1792 Joseph Mohr was born into a humble family–his mother was a seamstress, and his father, an army musketeer. As a youth, Joseph was a choirboy in Salzburg Cathedral and studied at Salzburg University (Polman). Then, in 1815, Mohr was ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.
Mohr introduced the hymn we gladly associate with Christmas today, only three short years later. But his circumstances were anything but glad. You see, as Christmas approached, Mohr learned that mice had significantly damaged the organ at his church, and he couldn’t have it repaired in time for Christmas (Roberts). But young Joseph had an idea to save the Christmas service.
A few years before, he had written a rather beautiful poem called ‘Stille Nacht’. So, he asked Franz Xavez Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist in a nearby town, to set his poem to music. The two sang the hymn, Franz with guitar in hand, for the first time in 1818, and the rest is history, as they say (Roberts).
‘Silent Night’ is believed to have first been translated into English by Miss Emily Elliott in 1858, and by 1914, ‘Silent Night’ was so familiar that, when German soldiers sang it in the World War I trenches, their British counterparts were able to respond in kind with the English version.– Classical Music, 2021
It wasn’t smooth sailing after that for Mohr. A disagreeable relationship with the head reverend led to Mohr’s request for a transfer. In the nine years following Mohr served at eleven parishes before getting his own in 1827. Sadly, he later died in poverty.
It seems Mohr’s life in service was anything but peaceful. On the other hand, we can see his diligence in serving as a priest in the church. That despite being moved numerous times he is a model of perseverance. And I don’t think that happens without the peace of Christ dwelling in one’s heart.
For all that he went through, I can’t help believing John Mohr found our Sar Shalom, Prince of Peace, and must have served HIs purpose by giving the world the beloved hymn, Silent Night, Holy Night.
Silent Night, Holy Night!
John Mohr, Lyrics; Frantz Gruber, Music; Stopford A. Brooke, Translator
Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Saviour is born!
Christ the Saviour is born
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Polman, Bert. “Joseph Mohr.” Hymnary.org. Accessed November 30, 2021. https://hymnary.org/person/Mohr_Joseph1792
Roberts, Maddy Shaw. “What Are the Lyrics to ‘Silent Night’, and What Is the Story of the Christmas Carol?” Classic FM. Classic FM, November 23, 2021. https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/occasions/christmas/silent-night-original-lyrics-composer/.
“What Are the Lyrics to Silent Night?” Classical Music. BBC Music Magazine, November 13, 2021. https://www.classical-music.com/features/works/silent-night-lyrics/.
Thank you, Susan. Merry Christmas!
Suzette, what a beautiful post. I loved learning more about John Mohr. I’ve always loved Silent Night. I sang it as a girl, and in school, I read a novel that referenced the WW1 soldiers on both sides pausing to sing that song in their respective languages. God works amazingly through music (among other things!).
Thanks for helping me learn more about the history of the author of Silent Night!
Jeanne, you are so welcome. I enjoyed learning about the hymn and the John Mohr myself and thought it would be interesting to others.