A season of peace

God’s peace can fill us and rule within us even when we’re surrounded by evil darkness or death. God’s presence and peace can pierce through any veil, past pain, circumstances, even an emotional valley we find ourselves in. Typically, Christmas is thought of as a season of joy, but it can also be a painful season for many. Perhaps you’re facing a battle. Relentlessly bombarded by pain, absence or longing. Hope is there, but you find yourself hunkered down in one of life’s many trenches. Beyond the candles sway at the velvety darkness, the porch washed aglow with brilliant color, push past the fragrant evergreens reminding of the eternal life offered in Jesus Christ’s arrival, there in the corner, our pain.

We may not be able to end the personal, emotional, cultural, or physical wars we are fighting this Advent season, but even in those darkest of places, wherein quiet-times and lonely rooms we find ourselves, we can lean into the Lord who is with us. Today, as we continue our journey towards Bethlehem and the birth of Christ, Celebrating… “Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above! Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray In fathomless billows of love! What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace.” ~Warren D Cornell~

When Jesus Christ came to earth, everything changed. Colossians 3:15~Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (NIV) My prayer this Christmas is for each of us to encounter the comfort of Christ, as heavenly peace, deep abiding peace fills our weary souls. Romans 15:13~May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

Down to earth

Each year seems to move more quickly than the last. Feels like only a few weeks ago that I stood here and shared from Micah 5:2~But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small…(NIV) God loves you. As the days scroll to weeks and the months pile into years, feeling the natural process of life speeding up. Though only 60 seconds are ever found in one minute. These minutes seem to progressively move, ever faster. Speeding us towards our soon meeting, an Advent with our Lord.

And so I offer you this simple phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two though it has been said many times and many May God’s Hope Thunder within you. A long-awaited greatly anticipated arrival. Celebrate with me Luke 2:11~The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (NLT) The Advent of Hope, that our world can be redeemed. In Romans 15, Paul emphasizes that Christ Jesus’s purpose in coming was to bring a spirit of unity and Hope for the future. The Northern kingdom had fallen, its brothers to the South would soon follow. Even in the midst of defining silence and substantial darkness, a voice Thundered Hope. And after waiting, a new day dawned, as the Light of the world, step down into darkness, opened our eyes, let us see Beauty, the hope of a life spent with God. This Christmas, Jesus offers us each an opportunity for a complete reconciliation of life. 

You may feel as Advent opens, there is no Hope all through the house, as marital tension has no stirring about, that despondent relationships have been hung by the fireplace with less care, as anxiety has you nestled all snug in your bed, while visions of ill-will dance in your head, and the furrowed fractures of life are tucked in your cap, for a long winter’s nap, in hopes that Christ Jesus would soon be near. Listen to me, Jesus has dawned Hope. We need to grasp that Advent is the season of proliferating Hope. A Thunderous Hope: where Prophecy encourages, a Delivery gifting us Hope, that in the Incarnation of Christ we have this blessed Hope.

Our Takeaway: Be born again to a living hope. The Bible is clear that we must be born twice to be reconciled to God. 1 Peter 1:3~Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (ESV). What a wonderful Christmas gift the Advent of our Lord is, as you pray with me: are you in need of Hope this Christmas, perhaps you need a Christmas miracle, why not come and meet the Savior today and find Hope for the way forward?

Love came down

Was there no other way? Did it really require God wrapping himself in the garb of flesh to fully fathom the human condition? Isaiah 53:3~He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with the deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. (ESV) Evidently yes. 1 Timothy 3:16~Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (NIV) This is — Thunderous Hope: Prophecy, Delivery.

The Incarnation of Christ. In the enigma that is our God. Incarnation is central to redemption. It stands at the epicenter of the Advent story. For without birth there is no arrival of Hope, no salvation to be given, there’d be no cross for reconciliation, no resurrection to give life, no death without first a birth. So without the first advent of Jesus Christ, we have no answer for Hebrews 9:22~In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NIV) The Incarnation of Jesus delivers Hope to humanity.

When we consider the Hope of Advent, there is a messy proposition. That no respectable journey to Bethlehem would be authentic or complete without first considering the angst. An unwed mother, a father Grip by uncertainty, humanity living in fearfulness and Ah yes, the waiting, a most demanding theme of Advent. To wait on God in the messiness of our humanity. Sadly, many myopic believers choose to bypass uncertainties and fears which are central to the Advent story. Instead of making a beeline to Bethlehem and the certainty of His birth, Isaiah 9:2~The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (NIV) Yes, they, like us and all who journey to the cross come from the long dark road.

To pass on the Advent journey, centuries in the making is to pass on the delightful exploration of the scriptures and those sublime moments of faith building afforded by God. To be myopic is to be nearsighted and render injustice to the life lessons of anticipation, the cause of struggle that brings growth to our faith, as Our Heavenly Father teaches us in those shadowy seasons, trust as He instills Hope, investing the comfort of His peace.