Advent’s Message of Peace
As we move through Advent, the second candle and second week carry the theme of “Peace.” But this Advent is not a peaceful time for most of us, in many different and troubling ways. The personal and family burdens so many people carry in this season of pandemic are different from person to person but equally weighty. Many have struggled in the loneliness of quarantines and isolation. Suicides and overdoses are up, and you don’t have to be in those extreme situations to understand the impact of loneliness on people.
Many others have experienced economic losses. Some (including me) have had friends or relatives go into the hospital to endure their treatment (of coronavirus or other illnesses) without a single visitor, or worse, ended their earthly sojourn alone. Even in the church of Jesus, there has been division in many congregations. Navigating uncertain times and circumstances has some believers ready to denounce fellow believers or church leaders for not doing the “right” thing–as if we know what that is.
Shouldn’t Christians be different? Of course we should be, and we are the only ones who can be. You see, everyone else looks at the chaos and can only ask themselves questions that have no answers in their belief systems–or answers that they cannot live with.
But Advent reminds us that God has a plan that he is bringing toward a victorious conclusion. In Isaiah 9:6-7, the famous “unto us a child is born” passage, the prophet reveals that the coming Messiah will be the one who rules everything there is (“the government will be upon his shoulders”). He will be the one who gives miraculously inspired guidance in his words (“wonderful counselor”). His power is God’s (“the mighty God”). His care for his own is that of a father toward his children (“everlasting Father”- Jesus even said he would not leave us as orphans).
And in this week of Advent, I’d remind you that God’s plan promised (and has given) us the One whose very existence in all these other roles is characterized by peace (“prince of peace”). This peace begins with his saving work, reconciling us to his father through death on the cross. We are at peace with God. And we can receive the peace of God. No condemnation is before us, only blessing.
That peace means we know who is in control, and it’s not a virus, government officials, medical minds, or “the science.” It is King Jesus. His words–found in his Word–give us the counsel we need to know how to behave and how to face hardship in this world. And they tell us that our future is not a disease-ridden world, but a remade heavens and earth where everything works just as it was meant to be. Can we be sure of this? Yes, as the passage concludes with the assertion–“the zeal of the LORD of armies will accomplish this.”
Let’s believe what God’s promise has established, and face these days in a way that shows by our behavior that we know all this to be true. Who knows whether your peaceful demeanor and words will be what draws someone to ask how you can be calm in such a time? So, be at peace! – Craig Miller, Director of Educational Development