Regime Change - Christmas Eve Midnight 2002


On the 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference with Adolf Hitler had ended Neville Chamberlain returned to Britain and made the following speech in Downing Street. "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."


Sixty five years later our hopes and aspirations this Christmas can be summed up in that one word – peace – peace on earth – peace in our time – peace for our time. Real Peace, lasting peace. If 2001 will be probably be associated with expressions like ‘911’,  ‘lets roll’ and ‘global terrorism’, new entries added to the dictionary during 2002 will surely include ‘axis of evil’ and ‘regime change’. 

As I was reading my papers this weekend it struck me that the implicit assumption made is that regime change will lead to peace and prosperity.  For example, if we believe our politicians and newspapers, we are about to embark on a war that is necessary to secure peace through a regime change in
Bagdad.  I suspect many Iraqi people would like a regime change and believe it will bring them peace. Unfortunately after Iraq, if we are to believe Ariel Sharon, there must be a regime change in Iran and Syria. I suspect the call will also be made for a regime change in North Korea, Palestine, Libya and several other so called ‘rogue states’.

But if we look deeper we find that the desire for ‘regime change’ is not limited to countries with despotic rulers who threaten the West. Much of
Eastern Europe wishes to join the European Community in the belief that a regime change from Moscow to Brussels will bring them peace and prosperity. But will it? It may bring EC subsidies but it will also bring more centralised beaurocracy.

And before we think the problem is only out there in the big bad world, lets remember how badly we sometimes long for regime change here in
Britain.  Whether from one political party to another or from one political leader to another, we are sold the idea that regime change in Parliament will bring lasting peace and prosperity. At least every four years. And its not only limited to the political realm.

In the commercial world, regime change occurs when ever there is a loss of confidence on the stock market or share dividends take a dive. The world of sport is no different. Regime change here is closely linked to the lack of goals, attendance decline and league performance.  I could mention the Church but lets not get too personal.

So the desire for regime change affects us at every level of life. The mistake, however, would be to imagine that if only we could solve the crisis in Iraq, in Europe, at No 10, or in the City, or even Canterbury, we could then enjoy a peaceful Christmas this year, and in the fateful words of Chamberlain, ‘go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

The reason we can’t is because the desire for regime change goes much deeper. If we were honest this evening I suspect many would confess to having thought sometime this past year that regime change at work or at home would bring peace and happiness.  Think about your boss for a moment, your partner (not necessarily the same person), your parents,  your children. Ever been tempted to think that regime change here would solve your problems? I promise you it won’t because the problem doesn’t lie out there but in here. And this is where the Christmas story has everything to do with regime change. 

Jesus came, in the words of Isaiah, to be the Prince of Peace. He came, as the angels proclaimed, to bring peace on earth, to those on whom his favour rests. How does Jesus bring this peace? By a regime change of the heart.  The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. The Christmas story brings this into sharp relief. We see the angels, the shepherds and the wise men come and bow down before Jesus.

The recognise him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They worship him and give him his rightful place in their lives. We also see Herod and the religious leaders exposed and threatened, unwilling to submit their lives to Him.

Jesus came at Christmas to give us a new heart. A new beginning. A new reason for living. No longer living for ourselves but for the one who created us to know Him and to love Him and to serve Him. Tonight  I invite you to make a regime change that will make a world of difference, at least to you and those who know you by tomorrow morning. And come and share in the celebration tomorrow of the birth of your Lord and King.