Sunday, December 04, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

As we light the candle for the second Sunday of Advent tonight, we remember the Peace that Jesus came to bring to the world. This peace is not like the world's peace - not what we would expect. Remarkably, He Himself became our peace. In some way that is beyond our human understanding, this baby in the manger became peace for us between sinful humanity and a holy God.

In his remarkable story, Peace Child, Don Richardson presents the saga of living among the Sawi people of New Guinea. In an effort to share the Gospel with this people group that valued treachery and deceit, he sought to find a cultural "key" that would unlock the beauty of the Gospel message. Everything was a dead end -- they even saw Judas as the hero of the crucifixion story -- until the day he learned about the Sawi concept of Peace Child.

For the Sawi, the only thing that could stop treachery and deceit between clans was to exchange a child. The clans would meet, and one clan leader would present the other with a child, who would be raised among the other clan. As long as the Peace Child remained alive, the two clans would have to maintain peace.

Richardson immediately saw the connection to Truth. He couldn't wait to get the leaders together. When he did, he told the about Jesus, the Peace Child that God sent to mankind. The Peace Child who lives forever. The Peace Child who was God incarnate. Immediately these Sawi leaders understood that Judas, instead of being the hero, had committed the ultimate sin in their eyes - he rejected the Peace Child.

Today, as you read the Scriptures below and light your Peace candle, remember Jesus who came, not to give a superficial or temporary peace, but to bring the ultimate Peace - peace between man and God. Eagerly anticipate the day when He comes again, bringing the perfect peace on earth for which we all long. And then pray those words He taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" - and ask Him to give us a glimpse of His kingdom by raising up leaders who will seek peace in some of the broken places of earth today.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace. When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; (Micah 5:2-5 ESV)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." ... After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 ESV)

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. - (Isaiah 2:1-5 ESV)

As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" - (Luke 3:4-6 ESV)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. - (Ephesians 2:13-16 ESV)

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