Summary: True peace does not come through contented circumstances, but through a relationship with God
As I was bringing our children to church Wednesday night, they were taking note of all the homes that were lit up and decorated for Christmas. They remarked at how they liked the decorations and the effort folk put forth at Christmas time. They also said, “People are different this time of year. They’re happier, and they’re nicer.” Seeing a teachable moment I asked them, “Why do you think that is?” They responded by saying, “Christmas is a happy time.” I agreed with them and we talked about the love God showed us through the gift of his son, Jesus Christ. How Christ warms our hearts and makes us happy, and as Christians, we should carry that warmth everyday, not just during December.
This time of year does have a special feel to it. Our early snow certainly added to that feeling, and I like that feeling that comes with Christmas. The Christmas Season usually brings out the best in people. Christmas has an affect on our attitudes and our outlook. It’s interesting how promises and characteristics that aren’t always present in our current circumstances or in our society become a point of emphasis during the Advent Season.
Last week we focused on hope. Hope is a powerful feeling that represents a mindset or an attitude. Unfortunately, our degree of hope often runs parallel to our circumstances. When we’re down and out, our hope sometimes wanes, but when we’re upbeat and positive, hope springs eternal. Last week’s scripture illustrated Isaiah’s hopefulness in spite of their being kicked out of Jerusalem and their being in Babylonian exile. He showed us that hope is not dependant upon circumstances. Hope is an attitude. Hope is a way of life.
This morning we relit the candle of hope and then lit the candle of peace. When we consider the circumstances in our nation and in our world, it’s rather ironic that we proclaim peace in the midst of such turmoil. Some of the headlines from this past week’s newspaper read: “Turkey may support U. S. war on Iraq.” “Saudis say they are fighting terrorism.” “Israeli troops kill elderly Palestinian woman,” bringing the death toll to over 2,600 since September of last year. “Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Kenya attacks.” “U.S. forces say they’re ready for war.”
How do we seriously approach this hour of worship; how do we honestly and with a clear conscience proclaim hope and peace in the midst of such turmoil and tragedy? How do we find the tranquility of peace when we bear the burden of grief? How do we claim Christ as the Prince of Peace, when we refuse to make him Lord of our Lives? How do these words, attributed to Isaiah, bring hopefulness and peace in the midst of suffering?
I’d like to suggest that these words in Isaiah bring hopefulness and peace, because they are from God. Last week’s scripture was a plea from Isaiah that God come down here and change things! Isaiah was speaking, asking God to rip open the heavens and make the earth shake in his presence. This morning’s scripture starts with God speaking.
VS 1-2. This is not Isaiah crying out, but God’s response of comfort. The initiative is God’s. God is again moving in history. He has not deserted the world. He has not deserted his chosen people. He is the sustainer and provider of peace.