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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Advent 2016: Peace

Today is the second Sunday of Advent, where we move our focus on the theme of PEACE.

Peace. It is hard to even contemplate what the word means anymore. We no longer live in a world where we experience the meaning of peace. But did we ever live in such a world?

The people of the Old Testament had recognized the promise of God in sending a savior. They were rooted in that hope. But Peace is what they needed.

Psalm 85:6-13 says-

Won’t you revive us again,
    so your people can rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, O Lord,
    and grant us your salvation.
I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
    for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
    But let them not return to their foolish ways.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
    so our land will be filled with his glory.
Unfailing love and truth have met together.
    Righteousness and peace have kissed!
Truth springs up from the earth,
    and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings.
    Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
Righteousness goes as a herald before him,
    preparing the way for his steps.
How heavy is your heart this Christmas season? In a world of chaos, shadow, hurt, disappointment, eagerness… is it even possible to contemplate what peace truly means anymore?

Beyond the shopping. Beyond the rushing around. Beyond the presents and toys. Beyond the friendly gatherings. Beyond the chaos of life. There lies a child, in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. He is heaven’s answer to our troubled world. He is Heaven’s blessing poured down, unfailing love, truth meeting together in a peaceful sleeping infant.

This precious, innocent, infant would grow up to be our reconciler with God and humanity. Do you hear his voice? It is soft, it is easily forgotten, like the cry that cracked the silence of God for over 400 years, it is easily missed. But He speaks peace to you, right where you are.

We remember the words of Jesus on the night he was betrayed, “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. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again.” And “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

When the prophets spoke of peace, they didn’t just mean making everything calm, they were talking about peace for the whole of life. Jesus taught us the same thing. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus came to put everything right. He came to help us love one another and accept one another, even when we are very different or even disagree with each other. He came to include the poor, the lonely the unusual and rejected. He came to bring peace between one another. He came to show us that God forgives us for all the wrong things we do and that we can be at peace with God.

The Advent Candle today represents Peace. Just as on the night when Jesus was born, peace came into the world, so today, as we invite Jesus in and live in his way, his peace can transform our fear, hurt, anger, and resentment. As we light this candle and read a Scripture, think about who you may need to make peace with.

Isaiah 26:3-19-

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
    for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
He humbles the proud
    and brings down the arrogant city.
    He brings it down to the dust.
The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
    and the needy walk all over it.
But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
In the night I search for you;
    in the morning I earnestly seek you.
For only when you come to judge the earth
    will people learn what is right.
Lord, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you.
Lord our God, others have ruled us,
    but you alone are the one we worship.
Lord, in distress we searched for you.
    We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline.
Just as a pregnant woman
    writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth,
    so were we in your presence, Lord.
We, too, writhe in agony,
    but nothing comes of our suffering.
We have not given salvation to the earth,
    nor brought life into the world.
But those who die in the Lord will live;
    their bodies will rise again!
Those who sleep in the earth
    will rise up and sing for joy!
For your life-giving light will fall like dew
    on your people.


Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonder you have sent us:

Jesus, your Son, our Advocate of peace, the Elegant Champion of reconciliation, Your victories echo harmoniously. You teach us the way towards peace, help us as we carry the torch of peace to our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods that it may reside within our hearts and radiate in our surroundings. Through the grace of Your power, transform the world into a Heaven. You are the only hope of mankind.

In our world this day Give peace, we pray. Because there is no one else who will fight for us If not You, our God.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Individual Readings:

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