It is the second Sunday of Advent and thus our focus word is Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace for he is the manifestation of the kingdom of God. Jesus is our hope. Jesus is our life. Jesus is our salvation. Feeling peaceful? That is an understatement 🙂
Oh God, there is no question in our hearts or minds that it is right and salutary to give You and You alone praise and worship at all times and in all places. It is right because Your kingdom has happened. It has happened through the birth of Jesus Christ and was solidified through the cross and empty tomb. You destroyed hopelessness. You calmed the chaos. You crushed the head of the deceiver. You banished the darkness. You have bound the forces of evil. Though we are sinners, You are faithful. Though we are weak, You are strong. Though we wander like sheep, You retrieve us for You are the Good Shepherd. Holy Father, we are so joyful because of the Prince of Peace and for this reason we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.
The following is the opening paragraph from the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, December 8 — the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The theme is peace that only God can give through the birth of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior who is coming again.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Matthew 3:2]
Those are the words of Jesus as he prepares his disciples for this eventual departure – a death they do not and can not understand right now. But it is a death that will usher in the peace that Jesus is leaving with them ~ for he is the Prince of Peace as prophesized through Isaiah. It is a peace that goes beyond comprehension. It is a peace that can not be manufactured, copied or imitated. It is a peace that, really, can not even be imagined – only hoped for with complete confidence. And I say confidence because – well – Jesus left it and because God promised it long before the man, Jesus, came on the scene. We talk about peace, but rarely do we pursue it rightly. The world imagines a peace where wars cease, racism is eliminated, discrimination is gone. Governments try to legislate peace. Churches pass meaningless resolutions that claim to eradicate racism. Basically, they try to ban sin which cannot be done by humans. Shalom – the peace that Jesus brings is so much more and is only ushered in through Jesus and the arrival of God’s kingdom. Let our Adventing continue.
Everybody is waiting for something:
Everyone is waiting,
But how time is wasted waiting wrongly?
How much energy is expended?
How much hope is drained?
Wait on Jesus and you won’t be disappointed.
Wait on Jesus
Good night my sweet child,
Rest your weary head.
May the Lord bless and keep you.
May the Lord grant you peace.
You are my sweet child and I love you dear, but you are a child of God and He loves you even more.
I cannot always see you but Jesus is always near.
So rest my sweet child and dream good dreams – may they be filled with joy.
And one more thing, as you drift off to your sleepy land,
Your Daddy in heaven has defeated the one who would harm you.
So do not fear the darkness for Jesus is your nightlight.
So good night my sweet child and rest.
You are in good hands.
In the midst of chaos peace appears to be a mirage.
The closer I seem to get, the farther away it retreats.
Luring me away from reality.
Giving me false hope.
But then I find something – an oasis.
Peace – ahhh…
But this isn’t right.
This is not real peace.
And I’m not meant to stay in this oasis.
But I don’t want to leave.
Is there any real peace?
Jesus is not a mirage.
Jesus is not an oasis shielding me from reality.
Jesus is peace IN the chaos.
Peace – ahhh…
The Gospel text for today is Luke 12:49-56. My focus is on verse 51 where Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace but division. Actually, Jesus came to bring peace through division. More can be heard on our congregation’s website after the video of the sermon is posted.
So with that I wrote the following Holy Communion liturgy with the Gospel text in mind. To God be the glory. Amen.
It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God. Through Jesus Christ You give us peace with You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit we are being remade. Your Word is life. Your Word is truth. Your Word pierces our soul and will one day divide us from this world as we stand before you purified and holy. Oh God, may we not be seduced by the allure of worldly peace. May it’s beckoning song be ignored. May its deceptive appearance be uncovered. Oh God, we give you thanks that Jesus was born to die that we could have hope and one day live peacefully with You without interruption. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. [Luke 12:51 ESV]
Seems like a strange thing for Jesus to say. After all, isn’t he the Prince of Peace? Doesn’t he give peace that surpasses all understanding? When the disciples see him after his resurrection Jesus says, “Peace be with you“. So why would Jesus say something like this? Well, look carefully at what he says, Do you think that I have come to give peace ON EARTH? That’s the distinction. Here on earth, there will be division on account of the Gospel. Jesus didn’t come with the intent to divide people but rather knowing that the Gospel would do just that because people are sinners. In John 15, Jesus warned his disciples that if the world hates him they will hate them. And isn’t that the truth. Yet, many people are so afraid of division. Can’t we all just get along? I am all for getting along with people, but when it comes to the Gospel, we must stand firm. We must respect people. We must love people. We must listen to people. But when it comes to the Gospel, if division occurs, then so be it. It is better to be at odds with the world than with God. Amen? The Gospel will produce division. That we have seen, but don’t mistake what Jesus says. He IS still the Prince of Peace and he DOES give a peace that surpasses all understanding. Standing firm on God’s Word in Jesus name, you can have peace in the midst of division. May your witness then, bring peace to people who are at odds with the Gospel. Amen!