Dear Disciples of Christ,
You may have noticed that there’s generally a familiar ring to the beginning of my sermons. I often start with something like, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2) It’s not an original idea. Paul begins his letters, sermons if you will, with a similar greeting. Letting His hearers know God’s “peace” is with them, providing comfort to the young, persecuted, and troubled early church. The same comfort God provides to us today.
This peace isn’t a simple “absence of conflict” though. God’s “true peace,” coming from the Hebrew word “Shalom (שָׁלוֹם)” has a sense of “completeness, intactness, and unity” associated with it. Only if something is truly “complete, intact, and unified” with all that is around it, can “true peace” be achieved. God mourns that, because of our sin, we don’t have true peace with Him and each other. However, in His infinite love, He has given us a way to find true peace.
Advent is a time of preparation. We prepare, of course, to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – the means God the Father uses to give us “shalom.” Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, He defeated sin’s power to create eternal conflict. His gift of forgiveness is what we need to have God’s true peace. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by calling people to turn away from and receive forgiveness of their sins (Luke 3:2-3). As we confess our sins to God, He forgives them completely and totally. He removes the source of conflict between us and Him. Further, when we confess our sins to and forgive each other, as God has forgiven us – true peace begins to take hold. By our witness of God’s mercy, true peace grows – killing Satan’s seeds of conflict.
We are lights of God’s true peace in the world. Therefore, spread God’s true peace in your words and deeds to all you meet now AND throughout the “Advent” life He calls you to live until Jesus glorious return.
In God’s Peace,