A Single Light – The Light of Peace
Here are my thoughts for the 4th Sunday in Advent (Year A), 22 December 2013. This is the fourth is a series of Advent Readings (“A Single Light – The Light of Hope”, 1 December 2013, “A Single Light – The Light of Love”, 8 December 2013, and “A Single Light – The Light of Joy, 15 December 2013).
The Scripture readings for this Sunday are Isaiah 7: 10 – 16, Romans 1: 1 – 7, and Matthew 1: 18 – 25.
Let us begin with a reading from the Old Testament, Ezekiel 37: 26:
“I’ll make a covenant of peace with them that will hold everything together, an everlasting covenant. I’ll make them secure and place my holy place of worship at the center of their lives forever. I’ll live right there with them. I’ll be their God! They’ll be my people!
In this world of darkness we light the candles of hope, love, and joy and add the single light of peace.
On the Fourth Sunday of Advent
A candle is burning, a candle of Love;
A candle to point us to heaven above.
A baby for Christmas, a wonderful birth;
For Jesus is bringing God’s Love to our earth.
Our second reading in lighting the Advent candle is John 16: 31 – 33:
“Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
Our prayer this morning,
Heavenly Father, You sent Your Son to be our Lord and Savior, to bring peace to the world. As we light the fourth light this morning, help us to be the light that helps to bring peace into this world. In the name Jesus the Christ, Our Lord and Savior, we pray. AMEN
As I was reading the passage from Isaiah for this morning, the thought of Patrick Henry and his declaration that men were calling for peace at a time when there was no peace came to mind. The fourth candle of the Advent wreath represents the Light of Peace, yet most of the news for today will be about war and acts of violence, anger, and hatred.
We make speak of peace but the like the leaders who heard Isaiah’s words three thousand years ago, our thoughts seem to turn to war as the means of achieving peace. Our leaders today seem to want war at all costs, thinking that somehow, someway we can achieve peace. But what does war accomplish besides death and destruction?
Peace can only be accomplished in one way and that is through freedom. And freedom cannot be accomplished if our focus is on war, anger, and hatred. Freedom cannot be accomplished when one group seeks to exert control over another group.
Peace can only grow when people are given the opportunity to expand beyond their boundaries, to seek things which may only be visions in their minds. When I began high school in 1963, we were entering space with the intention of going to the moon and, perhaps, even beyond. But some fifty years later, we are still on this planet with only a limited presence in outer space (provided by the Russians and the International Space Station which they began), a rover from China that landed on the moon, and our rovers on Mars. A rover on the moon and rovers on Mars are nice and are giving us great information about what is going on but that is not the same as sending people into outer space and doing things in outer space.
There are those, I know, who say that we have more pressing problems here on earth and I would have to agree. But when you stop thinking outside the box, it is very difficult to even think inside the box. And right now, we are not teaching our children to think inside the box and that means that they will not be able to do any thinking, inside or outside the box. And when one cannot think, even the most mundane problems are insoluble.
To have the ability to solve problems requires vision and vision only comes from freedom. If Joseph had not had his vision, he most likely would have left Mary to the vagaries of society and where would we be today?
But Joseph, being a righteous man, was free to be open to the vision offered by the angels and his choice of a path to walk came from his own freedom. Jamey Prickett pointed out that in deciding what to do, Joseph understood that this child would need a father who would teach him to take risks, to stand with character in face of disapproval and to believe the unbelievable. As Jamey noted, how will Jesus be able to walk to Calvary if you are not able to walk to Bethlehem? (From “Believing in Dreams”)
Do we have that same ability or have we become so blind and deaf that we fail to recognize God’s work in our midst?
For us to have freedom, there must be peace in this world. There cannot be peace in this world when our focus in on war and violence. The problems of the world will not go away but only get bigger and harder to solve if we do not change our focus.
So we light the single Light of Peace but instead one light burning in the darkness, it is accompanied by the lights of Hope, Joy, and Love. Instead of one light, the world is now ablaze with the promise that tomorrow will be the day we seek instead of fear. And when the light of Christ is lit on Tuesday evening, we will know that the our world has a chance and that peace, hope, love and joy are the reality of the world and not just words in a dictionary.