Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning arrival, is the four – week period prior to Christmas Day when we watch, behold, prepare, and rejoice in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The past year has been seen the increase of world-wide anxiety, stress, hopelessness. We need the Advent focus on hope, joy, peace, and love more than ever. I pray that these devotionals, posted on the four Mondays before Christmas, will help us all focus the arrival of Jesus among us, the proof of God’s love and care for each of us.
THE ARRIVAL OF PEACE ( Matt: 10: 34-37)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
With these twenty-three words, Jesus abolishes all of our easy definitions of peace. Peace and tranquility and serenity and harmony are what we are all looking for. But that’s not life Jesus lived. Tranquility and serenity? Not with the Jewish establishment and Roman guards dogging him everywhere. Harmony? Even among his disciples harmony did not exist. While in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? Not there. On the cross? Especially not there; Jesus plaintively asks why his God has abandoned him.
So if his words and his life do not exemplify our definitions of peace, what are we to do? Pretend he didn’t mean what he said? Ignore how he lived his life? Imagine that his goal for us is something different? Peace of mind, comfortable thoughts, justified denial. Is that what the advent idea of peace is?
Our peace is an internal peace, one that counts on the promises of a life in the Kingdom of God. But that peace does not come with the guarantee of a problem-free life. It comes with the promise of a life of anguish and hardship if we feel the pain of the rest of the world. It comes with the promise of broken relationships if we follow Jesus the Lord. It comes with the promise of not feeling at home in the world we live in. And it comes with fear if we stand up for others who also are looking for a life of peace.
Peace did come to the earth at the birth of Christ. This peace announced by the angels arrived when God’s plan for the redemption of all God’s children was put in motion. But until Jesus the Christ ushers in the eternal kingdom, we still live in “enemy-occupied territory” (C.S.Lewis). Our earthly peace will come from our obedience to God’s plan to love and win over the hearts of lost and hurting people near and far.
For more discussion of our role in the world as apprentices of Jesus, see an earlier post on being a disrupter.