Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, a season that denotes the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent marks a beautiful season of slowing down and yearning for the birth of our Savior, literally meaning “waiting” or “expecting”. Often times, these four weeks are marked by four themes – hope, peace, love and joy. Last week we looked at what an Advent hope can mean, placing our hope not in our external circumstances that can change or disappoint, but in Jesus’ humble birth, life, death and resurrection.
But today we pause and look at peace. For a long time, peace was what I longed for. I was overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted and worried. I would worry over my future, over decisions that needed to be made, over being seen as a failure. I was anxious and stressed for school, for work, for having a career, for basically any thought that would sit still in my brain for a couple of minutes.
I longed for peace, felt an unquenchable thirst for it.
The dictionary defines peace as “a state of tranquility or quiet; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”. Yea, that I didn’t have. And still sometimes don’t.
But the more I think about peace and the more I pray for God to reveal His peace to me, the more I come to understand that an Advent peace, waiting for peace, is not about everything externally being calm. In fact, most of the time things are still in chaos.
Peace is not about me working harder, being more organized, or turning off the television. It is not about me checking all of the boxes or doing yoga or diffusing lavender essential oil (though, those can all be great stress-reducers and lovely things!). No, peace comes from knowing the battle is not ours, it is God’s. And because of Jesus, the battle is already won.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
We can embrace peace, receive peace, walk in peace when we know God is at work. God sent His Son, His only Son, into the world. He did not come as a dictator or warrior, storming in and forcing people to follow Him. He came as a baby in a manger, born on a quiet night with lowly shepherds to welcome Him. Jesus shared all He had and all He was with people, walking, healing, redeeming the world. God looked at the world, at His creation, and saw a great need. He knew we couldn’t do the work by ourselves, redeeming ourselves or making things right. Instead, God sent His Son to live a full life, to bring that peace of God to the world.
Jesus overcame the world so we wouldn’t have to.
Jesus’ birth was able to bring hope and peace, so much so that He was called the Prince of Peace, the one to bring true peace to the world so that we wouldn’t have to work for it.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is Given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
Isaiah 5:6 – 7a
Read that again – “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” This prophecy from the prophet Isaiah was made about Jesus and His coming. It promises that this Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace will bring undeniable, unshakeable, and unending peace.
We have nothing to prove, nothing to hustle for, nothing to try and make it happen. Because of Jesus, we can have eternal peace. Because of Advent, we can slow down, take a deep breathe, and be reminded that true peace comes not from accomplishing everything, working harder, or finding some “peace and quiet” amidst the chaos of life.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Let us seek not the peace of this world or the empty promises but instead seek the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, slowing down and breathing in the rest and grace that God so freely gave by sending His Son to this earth.
A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent
(taken from the Book of Common Prayer)
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
// What does peace mean to you? How do you remind yourself of God’s peace despite unpeaceful circumstances?
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