Today we continue our celebration of Advent. Each Monday we are posting a reflection on the weekly theme. We invite you to read the scriptures, say the prayer and meditate on the daily reflection with us on each day throughout the week as we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
Somehow the peace that Jesus offers is not like what the world offers. Most often we think about peace in terms of the absence of conflict. We try to stuff down conflict to make it look absent. This is perpetuated through ignoring conflict or the use of guilt, shame, control, power, or at its worst violence.
Yet Jesus brings a true peace – Shalom – which is much more than the absence of conflict. Shalom is the world as it should be. It means healing, wholeness, and unity. Shalom can exist even in the midst of conflict. Shalom does not ignore or control conflict; it subverts it. Shalom breaks through those things that weigh us down or divide us. It puts us in harmony with ourselves, our world and other people.
But it comes in subtle and subversive ways. In places you don’t expect.
Like a baby born in a barn.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
He will not judge by appearance
nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
and truth like an undergarment.
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
The cub and the calf will lie down together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
for as the waters fill the sea,
so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.
In that day the heir to David’s throne
will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us…. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus, with your mighty power,
bring us peace as we prepare for your coming.
Deliver us from the divisions in ourselves,
from divisions with your creation,
from the divisions with others.
Help us see the paths of peace in our lives
and give us the courage to follow them.
Let us remember you are the only source of true peace
and that you are always with us.
The goal of our reflections this week will be to move us past our normal pattern of ignoring conflict and actively pursue God’s shalom in areas of pain or conflict.
Monday: Read and reflect on the Isaiah 11 passage several times today. How are hope and peace related? Where are the places in your life where you need peace?
Tuesday: Think through these areas where there is dis-unity in your life – broken relationships, stress, fear, etc. Ask God to break into these places and soften your heart so that peace may abound.
Wednesday: Remember your need for peace today. Reflect on these specific areas you have identified this week. Pray to God for wisdom and imagination to know how God’s shalom can be brought in these places.
Thursday: Today is a day of action. Choose one instance of dis-unity in your life and do something to bring peace in that situation. Reconcile a broken relationship, dive headlong into fear, relieve an area of stress, etc. Thank God for his ability to redeem this situation in your life.
Friday: Think of someone you know who is anxious, down or stressed. Do something to encourage them. Let your experience with shalom this week overflow into someone else’s life.