Second Sunday in Advent: Peace

Isaiah 11:1-10 talks about a branch from the stump of Jesse who shall bring peace. A world of peace where the wolf lays down with the lamb, the lion and calf feed together and the child plays near the viper's den. Or think of it this way: a world where Palestinian sits down with a Jew, where Muslim extremist drinks coffee with the evangelical fundamentalist, where Hutsi and Tutsi are friends. We believe Jesus is that shoot from the stump of Jesse. He has come, ushering in His Kingdom. Yet, we aren't at this place of peace. What gives?

As Pastor Jan pointed out tonight, Isaiah says that before there is peace, there must be judgment. Before reconciliation and redemption there must be righteousness.

Regarding judgment, the writer of Hebrews says, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). Keep in mind that the word (logos) of God is Jesus: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1). He brings judgment--which can be scary.

Pastor Jan also pointed out these words from O Little Town of Bethlehem: "The hopes and fears of all the years / are met in Thee tonight." I've never really reflected on those words tonight: hopes and fears. The mighty King Herod was scared of the birth of a baby. Fear comes to those for whom judgment is a scary thing--when there is much sinfulness to be accounted for.

Yet, with those fears come hope. There is hope because we do not have to be afraid of judgment. The Christ has offered to wash us white as snow. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

And therein we find our peace. We have been made right with God. Each day we can come into His presence, relying upon the Holy Spirit to continually transform us more and more into Jesus' likeness. And we have the assurance that one day all we be made right. All will be at peace in the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is now, and not yet. It is here, but not fulfilled. The appetizers have been served, but the main course is yet to come. So for now, we are to be peacemakers. We are to be the ones who seek and create peace where we are at. And we can be at peace, resting in the arms of the One who came as a babe into a tumultuous world. We rest in His arms and we wait. And there is and will be peace.

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