Advent Week 2: The Reign of Peace

As we move to the second week of Advent, our minds move from hope to peace. And as they do, the words of Colossians 3:15 ring in my ears:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”

adventpeaceWe tend to deal with peace very passively — we sit back and hope that it comes our way. But what does it look like to pursue peace? During this second week of Advent, let us all seek peace actively. Let us consider what it means to allow peace to reign in our lives as an vibrant force.

Because as followers of Christ, this is what we are called to.

Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”

John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.”

Isaiah 11:1-10

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.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Give your love of justice to the king, O God,
and righteousness to the king’s son.
Help him judge your people in the right way;
let the poor always be treated fairly.
May the mountains yield prosperity for all,
and may the hills be fruitful.
Help him to defend the poor,
to rescue the children of the needy,
and to crush their oppressors.
May they fear you as long as the sun shines,
as long as the moon remains in the sky.
Yes, forever!

May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass,
like the showers that water the earth.
May all the godly flourish during his reign.
May there be abundant prosperity until the moon is no more.

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does such wonderful things.
Praise his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen!

Romans 15:4-13

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:

“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing praises to your name.”

And in another place it is written,

“Rejoice with his people,
you Gentiles.”

And yet again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
Praise him, all you people of the earth.”

And in another place Isaiah said,

“The heir to David’s throne will come,
and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Father, you are the God of justice and mercy —
Teach me how to live a life of peace.
You are both holy and righteous —
Help me to repent and follow you only.
You sent your Son into redeem me —
Prepare my heart to receive him.
May your grace rise like a shoot in my heart.
May your harmony and peace rule in my life.
May the lamb of my faith lie down in peace
with the wolf of my fears and doubts.
Let your grace prepare a way in me
and be the peace in me that I long for.
Amen

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