Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother. And in his name, all oppression shall cease….His law is love and his Gospel is PEACE.
Advent is a season of waiting and longing. Before Jesus, the world was waiting and longing for God’s messiah. This season, I am waiting and longing for peace on earth. More than just a cliche phrase for Christmas, peace on earth is my genuine hope and prayer for our future.
On the second Sunday of Advent the candle of Hope is lit again Then the second candle is lit for Peace. As we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, in Advent, we have a reminder that Jesus is not only our hope for his Kingdom come, but that Jesus is also the Prince of Peace.
Jesus was called the Prince of Peace by the Prophet Isaiah, 700 years before the birth event that changed the world. This Title is more than a nice alliteration. It is God himself making a statement about who he is and what his heart is for our world. Isaiah 9:6 says this:
“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.”
In the verse before this famous one, Isaiah declares that the garments of war will be fuel for the fire (Isaiah 9:5). And in the verse after that Jesus’ peace and government will have no end (Isaiah 9:7).
A few chapters earlier, Isaiah had described Jesus’ coming peace in a beautiful phrase that people will “beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.” And the promise that Nation will not take up sword against Nation and there will be no need to train for war…(Isaiah 2:4).
How this speaks to my heart’s longing for peace! Instruments of war and violence being re-purposed to assist in the feeding of humanity made in the image of God and so loved? No more war or violence? Is is even possible?
Dare I hope for this kind of peace?
I do. I dare because the God that created this world has revealed his own heart for peace in Jesus Christ: the prophecy of his coming, his birth, his life, his teachings, his death and his resurrection. Before leaving this world, Jesus said to his followers:
But what is peace? Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace and is one of God’s many names. Peace. Shalom is not peace in a “I’ll just keep quiet in the corner over here” kind of way. Shalom is peace that is fearless. Shalom is peace that acknowledges every human being’s right to life and peace as they are created in the image of God. This is not easy peace. Shalom calls for radical enemy love.
God’s peace calls for a denial of the structures of sin that oppress people and attempt, often too successfully, to legitimize hatred, oppression and violence based on scapegoating and upholding differences that divide humanity over what we hold in common. Our world right now is so filled with violence, anger and hatred. We need the Peace of God that transcends our sin of division and brings unity in love.
Jesus promises us this kind of Peace. True Peace. This is not peace as the word defines it- as only achievable through violence, power and fear. No. True peace transcends fear. It frees us to open doors rather than slamming them shut because we are afraid of what might enter our lives. Peace says we can live free of fear. I think I can accept that. In fact, I hope and long for that kind of peace.
So then this is my prayer for myself and for you:
Jesus, grant us your peace. Give us more of you. Help us to recognize your Shalom in this world. May divisions and resentments in our lives and families find peaceful resolutions. May there be peace in our hearts, our homes, our families, our communities, cities, nation and world. Jesus help us to see the path of peace and to follow your gentle nudge along it. Give us the courage to choose that path even when it would be easier and even considered acceptable to take another. Help us to remember that your presence is the source of our heavenly and lasting peace. Jesus, We wish to bring your peace on earth.