Advent Week 4 – The Candle of Peace 

Isaiah 35, 52:1-12, Luke 2:8-20, Revelation 21

We are acutely aware that peace is in short supply in our world. We are collectively experiencing an absence of peace; fear is pervasively felt. Everywhere we look we are reminded of division, sickness, injustice, racism, and broken relationships. We long for something better to define the state of our world. We long for peace, for healing and reconciliation in our world, our nation, in our communities, and in our relationships. The desire to experience the true, deep peace that can make what is broken whole and complete. We recognize that it is only in Jesus, the Prince of Peace, that we will find lasting peace. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and promise of his return are the source of much needed peace in our lives. Jesus is our peace because he can and will bring peace into our lives today. God promises a future of peace when the Kingdom of God is fully established on earth.

Through centuries of upheaval, Israel held onto the promise that their present reality would one day give way to the establishment of the promised Zion, the Holy City, a symbol of Israel’s salvation and redemption through the coming Messiah. The prophets proclaimed that Zion would be defined not just by beauty, but by peace and life because of restored relationship with God. This peace would give way to great unending joy and worship of God because the pain and sorrow that hinders relationship with God and others would be defeated. God’s people clung to this promise.

The world Jesus was born into was in desperate need of this peace. It is the birth of Jesus that brought this peace into the world, paving the way for the establishment of Zion. The angels proclaimed to the unlikely group of shepherds that the long awaited Messiah had arrived, surprisingly, in the form of a baby, bringing with him joy and peace. This message was so profoundly important that only a host of angels could adequately herald in the news that the Messiah was here.

This is good news of the gospel: that in Jesus peace has come to the world as he makes his dwelling among us. 

As we look back remembering the anticipation of the Messiah and joy that the promise of Jesus’ birth brought, as well as how his death and resurrection brought peace to our world, we again look toward the future promise of the day when King Jesus will return to complete the establishment of Zion and God’s kingdom on earth. Just as Israel longed for the coming Messiah we look toward this promise with expectation of the day when every enemy that destroys peace is defeated and the Kingdom of God is made complete. Because God will dwell on earth, not just in human form or in spirit, but in the fullness of his glory, the old order of pain, sorrow, strife, and oppression will cease. This new earth will be marked by peace because of the redeemed relationship between God and humanity. The brokenness that previously dominated the world no longer exists within Zion because these things cannot exist where God dwells. As God’s people we are invited to reign with King Jesus. Once again this is the good news of the gospel. The descriptions John uses in Revelation echo the words of Isaiah as the physical beauty of Zion reflects the beauty of the fully restored relationship between God and humanity.

 As we move close to the final celebration of Advent, our anticipation and our longing for the return of Jesus grows. The more we experience the darkness and brokenness of our world, we become more acutely aware of how desperately we need the peace that only Jesus brings. We again look back and remember that God’s love, through the birth of Jesus who came to bring peace to all the world.  We feel the astonishment of the shepherds who, surrounded by the glory of God, were the first to hear the proclamation that the Messiah had arrived. We turn our eyes to the similarly amazing proclamations of Revelation, that God’s kingdom will come. Jesus’ will dwell among us once again bringing restoration and peace. May we be peacemakers in this world brimming with division and strife as we remember the Prince of Peace who came and will return, joining in the work of proclaiming God’s peace in our world as we wait.

Reflection:

What does choosing peace look like for you?

Are there barriers that are preventing you from choosing peace?

What does being a peacemaker mean within the context of your life?

Action: 

Consider ways you can be a person of peace this week to those you encounter.

Prayer

Father, Son and Spirit, only in you can peace be found. You are my peace. In the midst of the division, oppression, brokenness I see and experience all around me, I ask that your peace will overtake my doubts and fears. I choose to rest in the peace you give now and hope in the future promise of restoration that what is broken will find peace in you. When I am weighted down by the sorrows of the world, help me keep my eyes fixed on you, my hope for today and for the future. God,I praise you for the gift of Jesus. I praise you for the hope his birth, death, resurrection, and promised return gives to me. I pray that my life will be a testimony of your peace. May I be a person of peace to those around me. In your name, Amen.

Light the Hope, Joy, Love, and Peace (purple) candles.