Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent week 4: Peace

We have spent the last four weeks looking for Christ. Our verse for the time has been: "Keep watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Matthew 24:42. During this particular Advent season, while feeling called to really look for Jesus, so much not-Jesus has been shoved in our faces. Tragedies of various kinds have affected our country and our congregation. Yet the word is still the same: Keep watch for Jesus. He could show up anywhere, at any time, whether for His second coming or for his visits into our daily lives. We look for Him to come.

So today, we are going to spend some time looking for Jesus's peace to come. Following is a reading of the story of God bringing peace to earth that goes from the Old Testament, through the life of Jesus, and after Jesus left us with His spirit. Through all time, God has been bringing peace on earth.
Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Psalm 34:14
Seek peace and pursue it.
Isaiah 52:8,7
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
Luke 2:14
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…And He will be called…Prince of Peace.
John 16:33
[Jesus said, “…I]n me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 20:21-22
Again Jesus said, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
To these, I would only add a couple of verses that have encouraged me this week as I have been thinking about Peace. 

Isaiah 32
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

That phrase, "quietness and confidence forever," is what I want to lay hold of. The righteousness of God is what ushers it in. And I can be confident in Him. Who he is replaces the turmoil in our souls with quietness. I can be confident in his unfailing love and can be sure that nothing can take that away form me.

Also over this time of Advent, I have seen those in our midst who have been affected by the darkness of this world letting Christ's light shine through them. I have seen a girl badly wronged turning to Christ for her way forward. I have seen those who mourn claiming Jesus as the center of their joy. These things are great sources of encouragement to me. They help light the way for us all. And so the next verse comes to mind. It brings me peace because I can see the truth of it coming to be right before my eyes as I look around at all us messed up people finding God right where we are.
Philippians 1:6
[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
And so we know that those of us He has begun forming into His children, He will keep forming until He is finished. That brings me quiet confidence today.

Lastly, let's observe a time of quiet today. After a time of silence, we will have a prayer.

Heavenly Father,
The same God who created peace in the beginning and who has ever since promised its return,
The same God whose gift to a power-hungry, sin-occupied world was a baby
who remained just as innocent as the day He was born,
who promised to share with us His peace.
You are the God we need.

Prince of Peace,
We have been looking for you for a long time.
We love you because you have overcome the troubles in this world.
Thank you for enduring violence to share with us your peace.
We ask you to bring peace to our hearts
and to our land.
Spirit of the Living Christ,
Helper, Comforter.
Live in us.
Help us to find your peace in our world.
Let it grow in our lives.
Give us the beautiful words that proclaim its coming
to a world that needs to hear.

We want to see you with our own eyes.
We want to shout for joy.
We want go running with the news.
Make us beautiful as we shout it from the mountains.
We want to live at peace with each other,
to be fully restored.
In you, we have peace. You yourself are our Peace.
Be with us, Jesus, both now and forever.


No comments: