Merry Christmas and God’s rich blessings on you and yours…
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)
We often settle for a simple definition of that common Hebrew word taking its definition of peace. Peace for many would be the absence of conflict. For our persecuted brothers and sisters, peace would be not just the absence of conflict but also the cessation of hostility toward them, the restoration of their livelihood, their residence, their ability to worship without threat, or even, their lives. Peace takes many forms and numerous connotations and שָׁלוֹם encompasses them all. Shalom is not simply the absence of strife, it is an expression of being complete in your well being. There is peace in our physical and psychological security and then there is the shalom of God in which we are at peace spiritually.
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Ps 85:10)
This week of our joyful season of advent is a reminder of the peace that we through our binding faith in Jesus. He is our promised restoration of the shalom, the Prince of Peace. Though we may continue to sense the un-peace of the world, our faith lies not in this place but in the new Heavens and Earth over which our Lord will reign and once again, all will be righted.
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)
God promises peace like a river, a shalom like the crashing waves:
For this is what the Lord says: I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; (Isaiah 66:12-13)
The anticipation of this Peace is the center of our prayers this week. We shall pray for it to wash over us, to crash mightily on top of us and to carry us toward the promise of the kingdom of God.
Just seeing the words in the title triggers an immediate, visceral response in follower of Christ who has been around the church for more than a single Advent. It immediately brings to mind the carol in all of its brooding minor keys. Singing that difficult song produces a unique feeling; the melody and notes take you instantly to a high church-ancient reverence as you intone the plea of so many before you – Come Immanuel – Come God With Us!
In many churches this week, the Scripture readings included this well known verse from Isaiah:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isa 7:14)
The promise of the Prince of Peace and the Everlasting Father as the righting of the world. How we long for that.
The hope that arrives in the newborn baby.
Advent is a season of anticipation with weekly or daily reminders of what is to come. Our eyes and hearts rarely turn backward during this period; we are focused in hope on the birth of the Savior. His coming into the world restores our sometimes shaky faith and dispels the feeling that God might have left us to our self-created rewards here in the world. To know that the Wonderful Counselor will walk with us once again, as the Father walked with Adam, is to be given the greatest gift of all. Our hopes for the shoring up of the crumbling walls of the city, the banishment of our enemies, the restoration of vision that Bartimaeus, all will be made right with the One who created and sustains it:
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:3-5)
Advent reminds us that our hope lies in one thing, the Lord Jesus Christ.