The theme for Zion’s Advent will be “peace.” Lasting peace may sound like a fantasy in this world. At the end of the Small Catechism, Martin Luther warns Christians that the devil with “his lying and murdering day and night” aims to rob us of peace within and without.
This year for our Advent journey we seek deliverance from such peril. Therefore, we are drawing on some very insightful materials recently released from Concordia Publishing House and authored by Rev. Dr. Daniel Paavola titled “Peace Came to Earth.” Pairing with the series we will meditate on the hymn “O God of Love, O King of Peace” (LSB # 751).
Further introducing our theme, Paavola writes:
"Peace is our common pursuit. As Advent leads us to Christmas, we are especially seeking a distinct season of peace. We need a quiet place to rest during this restless time. Year after year, with each Advent season, we wonder if this year will bring a peace that endures. We crave the reassurance that God knows all our needs and will provide for them, not just for these short weeks but for every season.
Often, we grow impatient as we seek peace. Jeremiah the great prophet exclaimed, “We looked for peace, but no good came” (Jer. 14:19). Despite knowing the promises of God to provide for us, we might try to find peace on our own. We then define peace according to the ways we seek it. We might imagine that peace comes when we finally have enough of all the things we plan to buy. Or we might look for the perfect place where peace is an undisturbed solitude, the cabin beside a still lake. We might seek peace by escaping memories of the past. Or peace might be an elusive future where everyone does exactly what they should. These are our many ways of defining peace, but sadly, each of these directions could go on and on without ever being fulfilled.
To illustrate both our pursuit of peace and God’s plan for us, our Advent series this year uses a five-point star for each sermon and children’s message. Each message will emphasize a different point of the star. Overall, the star reminds us of the Christmas star of Matthew 2 and that wonderful light that guided the Wise Men to find Jesus. Their long journey ended with the blessing of a lasting peace. Just as the Wise Men followed the star, so we will go to each point in this Advent star. This won’t be a useless journey that never ends. We will find that God meets us at each point of the star, knowing our needs and bringing us the peace we are seeking.
Since the five-point star will guide our journey, picture yourself drawing such a star. Start in the bottom left corner and draw up to the top center point. Stop and draw downward to the bottom right corner, then upward to the middle of the left side. Draw across to the right, and back to the bottom left corner, eventually reaching each point. Every point goes a certain distance but then is stopped. In the same way, each of our paths to peace could go on and on, never being fulfilled. There won’t be enough possessions or perfectly calm places to give us lasting peace. But as we seek peace in these many ways, God intersects us with a peace that both passes our understanding and yet meets our needs. God knows the many ways and directions by which we seek peace. As we journey, God meets us, halts our endless pursuits, and gives us a new understanding of His gift of peace. That peace comes always through the birth of Jesus, the Word become flesh who steps into the world and fulfills our desire for peace.
In the end, on Christmas Eve and Day, we will find our lasting peace and treasure. God’s peace doesn’t send us on an impossible search. God’s peace is not an invisible needle buried in a haystack. God’s peace is a treasure laid in the straw of the manger. God’s peace is the priceless Son of God, born in the stable and laid in plain view for us all. He is the diamond found in the manger’s hay. As the Prince of Peace, He is the peace that we seek."
Back in the Catechism, Luther points his readers to the Lord’s Supper where the One who once lay in Bethlehem now lays in our hands and mouths. It is my prayer that our Advent and Christmas journey will increase our hunger for such a gift. Along the way, we will certainly hear the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Please join us for unique meditations during the Wednesdays leading up to Christmas. Our midweek services will be held at 11 a.m. (with a meal served following) and 7 p.m. (with a meal served prior).
December 6 – Evergreens of Peace Crowned with the Star
December 13 - Peace to All, Near and Far
December 20 – Our Peace Rests on Him
Peace in Jesus!