Sunday, December 9, 2012

Take 5 with Kathy - "Advent meditations...Peace"

Today we light candles one and two on our advent wreath. While there are various adaptations of the naming of each candle, I remember we called it the candle of “peace”. Synonyms for this word include “calm, quiet, stillness, tranquility, silence, harmony, serenity”. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? How I love being able to enjoy moments like that! But in this busy world hustling and bustling with activity, interruption by constant noises, bombardment by demands on our time and resources, and invasion of our “down” time by technological advances, peace can be hard to find. We often need to intentionally set aside time for quiet reflection and rest. Many of us are able to identify with the biblical man Job who said, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26)

People the world over are searching for peace. Indeed we are to “seek peace and pursue it” as Psalm 34:14 says, but we frequently look for peace in things which will only offer temporary contentment. Even our closest family and friends are unable to provide lasting peace.

The only Person who can fill us with the peace we long for is prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, “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.” This Scripture is often read during the Christmas season as it speaks of the Messiah, our Saviour, who was born in Bethlehem. A host of heavenly angels appeared to shepherds and said, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) When Jesus ministered to people He often brought peace as He healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, made blind eyes see, forgave sin, cast demons out of those possessed, and raised the dead to life.

When Jesus revealed to His disciples that He would soon be leaving this world and returning to Heaven, He comforted them by saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) He knew they would face hardship and opposition so He promised the presence of His Holy Spirit to all those who believe in His name and follow Him. Jesus said, “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.”

Jesus Christ did overcome the power of this world and our enemy, the Devil, by giving His own life to pay the price for our sin. This is God’s plan to bring peace to all people as Colossians 1:19-20 clearly explains, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Christ), and through Him (Christ) to reconcile to Himself (God) all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His (Christ’s) blood, shed on the cross.”

When our relationship with God is right and secure we have the peace He has promised. The Psalmist says, “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165) Living in the peace of God is also healthy as Solomon points out in Proverbs 14:30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body…”, and Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”

near Salzburg, Austria
One of my most favourite Christmas carols was written by Joseph Mohr with music by Franz Gruber. Both lived in the Salzburg region of Austria and their now beloved song was first played on Christmas Eve, 1818, in Oberndorf. Tradition suggests that the church organ was broken prompting Mohr to request a guitar accompaniment by organist Gruber. They performed the melody in St. Nicholas church and the tranquil hymn, “Silent Night” (Stille Nacht) has been enjoyed by millions every Christmas since then.

“Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and Child,

Holy Infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace.”

 “Now may the Lord of Peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all.”

Until next Sunday,

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