Peace family, this, the last week of advent, we light the candle that symbolizes peace, and we certainly can use it!
There are many reasons that this year hasn’t felt peaceful at all! Whether your focus was on civil, national, or international unrest, we need a savior and a Prince of Peace more than ever!
Even in the hardest times, we can still tap into the great peace that Christ offers us. I recently told a friend that no matter how much it goes against intelligence, the longer I live, and the more difficult circumstances I suffer, the closer I feel to God, and that he is dependable, and faithful, and good. It doesn’t usually make sense, and it’s difficult to explain. I just know that after recovering somewhat from whatever struggles, disappointments or even tragedies I endure, he just seems more and more like “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
Peace family, earlier this year, I got to personally visit Bethlehem. Bethlehem is a town that is ravaged by political unrest and terrorist action. The area is ruled by Muslims, so our Jewish tour guide waited outside at a nearby cafe, while we rode our bus past the tall, barbed-wire-topped cement walls that surround it, plastered with political posters. There’s even some graffiti of a dove wearing a bullet-proof vest, painted by the famous graffiti artist, Banksy. My family and I walked up a fairly steep road to a huge church building that was assembled over several centuries by multiple denominations, which was evident in the different styles of incorporated architecture. The day was uncharacteristically cold, and we got a taste of Christmas in late spring. We waited in a line with other pilgrims from all kinds of countries inside, surrounded by candles, the smell of old wood and incense, intricate paintings and golden decorations designed to honor God. Finally, we climbed down into a basement-like passage, which was built into the cave areas under the chapel where tradition says that Jesus was born. Although there’s no way of knowing whether that specific cave is really where Jesus was born, the fact that we had to be very close to it, (the town is still very small) put a special electricity into the air. We praised God, prayed, and sang Christmas carols down in that sacred grotto beneath the town that showed so many signs of worldy contention and weariness.
Even in the midst of despair, the church should be a place of peace and working together, and we should actively invite those struggling outside into it. We have such a great hope in Jesus, and peace in our reassurance of the greatness of our God, and it’s worth sharing! Have you lost sight of the peace and hope that you have in Christ? If so, take some time this week to really mull over his greatness. Ask God to give you his perspective, and see how it comforts your heart. Remember the words of Jesus, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Be encouraged, Peace family!