Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Fourth Candle: Anticipating Peace

For the final week of Advent, we are anticipating peace.

It doesn't escape my notice that peace is the focus of the fourth and final week of Advent. I think it's quite appropriate to take THE most hectic week of the year and make its focus peace. Even as we run around, doing all the last minute things that seem to magically come up in the last few days before Christmas, we are to remember that Jesus came to the earth as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus' birth was probably the epitome of chaos. The entire world of that time was traveling, because of the census that Caesar Augustus had decreed. There were people EVERYWHERE. That's how Jesus came to be born in a manger; everywhere else was full: every house, every inn, everything. This kinds of conflicts with the image conjured by Silent Night, doesn't it? But the truth is, in the midst of the uproar that was Bethlehem at that time, there was peace in spite of the craziness. Why? Because the Prince of Peace was born.

This week reminds us that peace is not the absence of chaos, but the ability to be still in the midst of it. Christ came to bring peace, and he left it with us in the form of the Holy Spirit: 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. -John 14:27 
On that night when Jesus was born, the shepherds heard a similar message: "Fear not!" and then they heard a host of angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”  (Luke 2: 14)

So in the midst of traveling or shopping or cleaning or decorating, or even in the midst of family drama or grief or hurt, remember that the coming of Jesus brought us peace. Not the temporary outward calm that teeters precariously in the sea of our emotions, but that inner peace and stillness, that only Christ can give us. The kind of peace that allows us to remain calm even as the world is going berserk.

Peace is here. Be still in Him.

Let us light the candle of peace in our hearts, for we know that God is Sovereign.

Be blessed and shine with the light of peace!

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A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! -Prov 15:23