25 December 2022

Expect God’s peace: God is with us

Lieutenant Matthew Stone

In our final Advent reflection, Lieutenant Matthew Stone celebrates Christ’s peace breaking through into our world.

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).

If it were on The Great British Bake Off, the judges would have struggled to say anything nice about my cake. It was inedible and roughly decorated with shop-bought fondant icing. But when my wife cut into it at an online gender reveal party, with family members watching on, chocolate balls wrapped in blue foil spilled out as they were meant to, revealing that we were expecting a baby boy. As I reflect on Isaiah 9:6, I find myself thinking about expectation and tradition – and how, like my cake, we can find something beautiful inside something that’s not how it should be.

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

Read the passage

Something beautiful

Isaiah recognised that things weren’t how they should be between God and his people. However, he also reminded those listening that it didn’t mean that everything was bad or that things couldn’t change. In and among all the things that weren’t right, Isaiah knew that something beautiful was breaking through: ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ (Isaiah 9:2).

His message wasn’t just about the coming of Christ centuries later. It was a message for the day and world that he lived in. It was a message for the world that Christ was born into. It’s a message for us today: if things aren’t as they should be, let’s look out for where God is breaking into the world with his light and peace.


Nonetheless, Isaiah 9:6 has come to be associated with this time of year. Unlike texts where the Gospel writers make the association with Jesus for us (see Matthew 4:15 and 16), Isaiah 9:6 has been associated with Christ through Christian tradition. It’s not a new tradition, like gender reveal parties, but generations of believers have identified Christ in Isaiah’s words.

Advent and Christmas are filled with tradition. Some of these traditions we understand, and others have simply always happened. Traditions can be exciting and beautiful when they retain their meaning and significance. So, as we reflect on Christ’s coming and these words, I’m challenged to discover what their meaning is for me.


When we were expecting our baby, I couldn’t have guessed what it would mean for me. I still remember the excitement of the scans, the gender reveal and the baby shower. I also remember the anxiety around all the unknowns. Yet in Jesus, we have someone who we’re told all about and who is still more than we could ever expect.

As we think about the names that are associated with him, Jesus reveals how God is breaking into the world with his perfect presence. In that presence, we discover and experience his provision, power and peace. Isaiah’s words point to what God did, to what God continues to do and to the time when Christ will come again and we fully know his presence with us and all that it brings.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth, we understand that something incredibly beautiful is breaking into life as we know it: God’s presence with us in whatever we’re experiencing. In that presence, God provides for us what we need; his power is making all things as they should be and his peace brings us a sense of his wholeness.

‘Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life’ (Philippians 4:6 and 7 The Message).

Written by

Matthew Stone

Lieutenant Matthew Stone

Corps Officer, Southampton Sholing

Discover more

Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill reflects on a well-loved Army carol.

A message from Commissioner Gill Cotterill from the War Cry Christmas special.

A Christmas reflection and video message from our international leaders.

Carol accompaniment videos with lyrics, reflection videos and incidental music for use in Christmas services and events.

Related tags