Where Is Our Peace?

It’s here ~ the last Sunday of Advent. On this day, we light the fourth candle, the candle of peace. Our world is not always a peaceful world. People hurt other people. Countries are at war today. People don’t take care of the world, or people in the world. There can be anger, and taking sides, holding grudges, lashing out. There is sin, and where there is sin, there is not peace.
But God promises peace. During Advent, we pray that we, as well as all people, will seek God’s peace more eagerly than ever. How is that possible?
All we must do is recall that Jesus came. He, the Prince of Peace, came to a world in struggle. He brought Peace to a place of despair. This Sunday we can say again, and to say always, “I wait for you Lord, for your salvation today and every day to come, for your joy and peace to rule in my heart, for you are God who is coming. You did not stay away. You came to our chaos. You came to bring peace.”
This last candle reminds us that Jesus didn’t leave us in the world without His Peace. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” In times when it seems we are surrounded by hatred and fighting, we can remember that God’s intention is peace, in our homes, communities and world.
Read Psalm 46, and realize… He is Our Peace… and He is with us.
The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done! He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear. He burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be Still and Know that I am God”
I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for those in our world today who act for peace. Help us look for ways to be peacemakers at home, in our communities and in our world. AMEN

Advent Joy????

This is the third week of Advent, the week to celebrate JOY!!!
One thing that sometimes happens as we get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth is we expect to be ~ and others expect us to be ~ happy all the time. But Joy? It’s not the same as happy. Joy is a deeper feeling created by knowing that God cares for us. That He leads us when we can’t find our way. And He gives us chance after chance to make things right with Him and with our neighbors. We rejoice because God is our dear Father and because the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. We are happy because Jesus wants to give us his peace and let us share his joy now and in heaven forever.Joy is remembering that God sent Jesus so we would always know of God’s care.
We light a pink candle this week, which is different from the others because joy is possible regardless of our circumstances because Christ has come, and Christ is coming again.
As the Hymn of Joy says…
“No more let sins and sorrows grow Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found.”
Christ came to free us from what holds us down so we can free to hope and love and live with joy.
Listen to the words from this Psalm of Joy, Psalm 33.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous!
It is fitting for the upright to praise Him!
Praise the Lord with the harp.
Make music to him on the ten stringed lyre.
Sing to Him a new song. Play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true. He is faithful in all He does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice.
ALL: The earth is full of His unfailing love.
Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the joy remembering Jesus’ birth brings to us today. Help us live in such a way that our words and our actions help others know of the joy you give. AMEN.

Love Shines Bright

The Christmas Season.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?  It’s the happ-happiest season of all, at least according to Andy Williams as he croons over the radio.  Well, at least it’s supposed to be.   Right???

Sadly, many people would say, if they were given the chance, that Christmas and especially this time of waiting called Advent, is the loneliest time of the year.  It may be lovely out, with lights and snow and music.  It may be a time filled with gatherings and parties meant to bring happiness to this time of year.  But…

Even in the lovely, there are the lonely.  These are the ones whose memories make them long for a love lost, a love never ending, a love like the LOVE that came down at Christmas in the coming of the Baby Jesus.

A love that feels like home.

Pain and loss hit home when we start to remember how we’ve loved, or dreamed of love.

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

Love never ends.

This waiting time of year can awaken us to the places of unfulfilled love, a longing we often can’t understand as we celebrate surrounded by friends and family.

Maybe this feeling of longing comes from our unending longing for our eternal home where, only when we see Jesus face to face, we will no longer feel homesick for His arms of unconditional love around us.

The prophet Isaiah spoke clearly this feeling of longing for that eternal love two thousand plus years ago. In a very different time, the longing of the human heart was the same.

As we light the Second Candle of Advent, the candle symbolizing the eternal love of God for us, we read responsively from Isaiah 9…

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.

On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

For to us a child is born.

To us a Son is given.

The government shall be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace!

Until we are home in His arms of love, we wait and long for His coming.

Come Lord Jesus!