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!
I post this evening blessing for you as a reminder as you prepare to retire for the day. I will be meditating on this shortly; before I fall asleep. There is so much swimming in my head by days end, that I just need something peaceful to reflect on as I drift off. May you find peace through this blessing.
May the peace of God through Jesus Christ comfort your weary soul.
May it soothe all you hurts.
May it calm all your fears.
May Your heavenly Father hold the Evil One at bay;
fighting the fight as you rest your tired body.
As you close your eyes and drift off to sleep this night,
may your final images be that of your Savior:
– Cradling you in his arms,
– Gazing into your eyes,
– Whispering once again his promises to you.
May these images fill you with peace so that your body can be restored for another day of showing the world the love of God.
Rest assured, child of God, that your Savior watches over you.
You are loved by your Father in heaven.
Rest with the knowledge that you are filled with His blessing.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” [2 Thessalonians 3:16 ESV]
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” [John 14:27 ESV]
The sun is racing across the sky trying to reach its finish line.
There is no stopping its advance.
It will finish its course.
It will dip below the land.
Its purpose none can confine.
Soon darkness will appear on the scene seemingly covering the light.
There is no stopping its advance.
It will darken our doors.
Giving shadows center stage.
Its presence can cause some fright.
But the darkness will not win,
for Jesus is within,
and much to its chagrin,
it will take it on the chin.
So rest your weary head and your fears you can release.
There is no stopping His advance.
God our father reigns on high
His kingdom will never end.
May His love give you peace.
You gather me in as a hen sheltering her brood under her loving wings.
You protect my life as a brave and fierce guard taking his post on the city wall.
You watch over me as loyal shepherd keeping watch over his sheep for the hungry wolves.
You hold me close as a nursing mother longingly gazing at her sleeping child.
Oh God, I will sleep in peace this night for You are with me. I commend myself to You. I am Yours. Amen.
READ: Psalm 3. Now read it again. One more time. Alright, we’re ready. Let’s pray…
My foes are many; those who would oppose Your ways.
They celebrate and flaunt their success; scoffing at me and saying that I have no hope.
They claim victory; boasting of their strength. They think they are in control; that they hold the upper hand.
My foes arrogantly go on their way; secure in their positions of power; strutting in confidence; smug in their ways.
Oh Lord, my God, my foes are many.
Their numbers overwhelm me.
But You, oh God, are a shield about me.
You are my fortress.
You are my army of myriads that goes before me.
You have lifted me up and secured my life.
You have never ceased to hear and answer my cry for help.
Therefore, I will never fear the hordes that oppose me.
Day and night You are my guard.
I am at peace.
Oh Lord, my God, my foes are many but You overwhelm them.
Your enemies have been defeated and thus I am victorious.
They claim salvation is theirs.
They are wrong.
Salvation is Yours and Yours alone.
Through Jesus Christ You have saved me thus may Your blessings sustain me now and forevermore.
Through Jesus Christ my Lord I pray,