Advent Peace

December 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm • Posted in UncategorizedNo comments yet

Here are some thoughts on Advent, based on a sermon I am giving at an Advent service this December:

 

Advent as we know is a season of preparation and anticipation. It’s the anticipation for the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We often underestimate the earth shaking, life changing significance of God coming to be among us, to walk with us in this world, to come and do the one thing He could not do in heaven-to die. Christmas is coming whether we are ready or not. Christmas comes to us whether we are in a spirit of joy or a spirit of sadness. It comes in power in the midst of the distractions. Every year no matter what place I find my own heart, mind and soul in, I can count on Christmas coming in a new, powerful, and transformative way. Today’s theme is peace. Peace is a complicated topic in our world today. Peace is not one of our first thoughts about this season of Advent as we prepare for Christmas. If anything, at many times it seems as if this season has no peace. The busyness of parties, shopping, decorating, cooking, travel, and other preparations are often very stressful and overwhelming. Often Advent and Christmas look very different than this peaceful image of a savior born in a stable. It is an issue that we need to think about, but I also recognize that perhaps our image of the birth of the savior is a bit unrealistic. I have only been at the birth of two children, but based on what I have seen and heard, peaceful is not the word that I would use! When we look at the story today, if we are to put ourselves in the place of Mary and Joseph, we readily recognize that their situation is not peaceful. Even the shepherds and the sheep were concerned at what they were witnessing, so much so that the angels came and spoke to them much like God has spoken to Mary and Joseph at the beginning of their adventure.

Regardless of these facts and realities, there is something about this season of preparation that is to be peaceful. As many of you know, I love the song Silent Night, it speaks to the depths of my heart and soul. It is a peaceful song as we sing in hope for this sweet newborn to sleep in heavenly peace. We hope that our own children will sleep peacefully as well. Part of the magic, mystery and holiness of Christmas Eve is the great peace that can come to us as we go to bed and wake to Christmas morning, one of the few days of the year where there is little to no business, shopping, or other work to be done. There can be a beautiful peace to Christmas Eve, to this season of Advent.

If we are all honest, each of us must admit that we would like more peace in our lives and in our world. There can be a tremendous lack of peace in our lives, whether it is from busyness, conflict, crisis or something else. There is clearly a lack of peace in our world today. We find crisis, pain, and conflict all around us; in our families, our neighborhoods, our city, our country and our world. Disease (dis-ease), pain, economic challenges, divisiveness, war, poverty and so much more overwhelm us. Like Pastor John said Sunday, we wonder when Jesus is coming. Sometimes our lives, even in this great Christmas season are simply about survival. The interesting thing is that peace is not the absence of conflict. Peace, rather is something bigger than our own comfort or happiness. Peace can exist in very real ways in the midst of conflict, crisis, and pain. The angels first words are ‘do not be afraid.” These are the first words of God when he appears in the scripture as well. Jesus uses these very words. I believe that real and lasting peace also begins with these words—do not be afraid. There is more, as there is great news of both comfort and joy because God has a solution to our fear, our lack of peace. The solution is found in this Jesus who has been born. The solution to our lack of peace is always found in Jesus, in each and every circumstance and reality of our lives. God can bring peace to any situation, any season. You see, peace is not an emotion, its not the absence of conflict, its not based on our feelings or sense of comfort. Peace is a state of mind, but it is so much more. Peace is a posture. It’s a posture or lifestyle that we assume. Sometimes its easy, other times it is impossible without the help of God. Peace is not meant to be a solution to trouble, an ideal that we hope to get to, rather peace is meant to be the reality of our everyday lives. God came to the earth in this little baby not just for our salvation, but to bring peace to our lives, our families, our communities and the world.

May we find peace in the midst of everyday life. May our peace come from the Lord Jesus Christ, the one we celebrate this season. Emmanuel-God is with us!