Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers”.
Day one, 1 December of the advent calendar written by Rob Furlong, senior pastor of the Woodvale Baptist Church, presents the topic of peace and peacemakers. In contrast to the peace and joy we sing about at Christmas time, Rob points out that currently 22 wars are being waged across the world, on 5 different continents, resulting in war-related deaths of 120,151 people in 2022. This is staggering!
Isaiah 9:6 presents the prophecy of a child being born, almighty God, Prince of Peace. We see the fulfilment of this prophecy in the birth of Christ celebrated each year at Christmas. Traditionally this is a time when people make an effort to come together and share in festive meals and joyful gatherings. However, for many across the world, this is not a festive and joyful time as families and friends experience fractious relationships, hard financial times, work commitments or the enemy of distance keeping loved ones apart.
A little closer to home this lack of peace is becoming evident in our schools. Recently a Senate committee set out to investigate the effects of disorderly classrooms on student learning:
The inquiry will refer to Australia’s declining ranking in the OECD disciplinary climate index after the latest international education report card revealed that Australian classes were noisier and less disciplined than in many other parts of the world. Also included in the inquiry’s terms of reference is the effect that disorderly classrooms may have on teacher safety, satisfaction and workforce retention and teachers’ views on whether they are sufficiently empowered to maintain order. 
This lack of discipline or self-regulation portrayed by some students is evident not only in classrooms but in how our young people navigate their world of social media, risk-taking actions like experimenting with vapes and the impulsive taking and sharing of compromising videos. These events have a huge mental and social impact on our 14 and 15-year-olds who have undeveloped prefrontal cortexes attributed to a lack of ability to make mature, reasonable, and rational decisions.
Back to Rob, in our advent calendar, where he challenges us to take a fresh look at an old message, that the birth of Jesus brought “peace on earth” and that peace in our relationship with God and others can be a reality in our lives and the world. We are encouraged to know God’s peace deep in our soul, the peace which Christ brings in His birth and death to reconcile us to God our Father.
In the birth of Jesus, Christmas, God offers us peace in exchange for our anger, resentments, and fears. Our prayer is that our community might know and experience this peace, and bring this into our hearts, homes, school, and the world.
Merry Christmas from the staff at SCC. We hope that you enjoy the Christmas season, and we look forward to walking together with you in 2023 to support the growth and success of our young people.