Summary: For the second Sunday of Advent, we look to what Jesus has to say about peace.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they [the shepherds] were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men [those] on whom his favor rests.”
And on earth… peace.
Peace must be one of the most already-but-not-yet parts of our faith.
You know what I mean… these parts of our faith that we understand to be complete and secure, but aren’t fully part of our experience now.
The season of Advent has a great deal of already-but-not-yet associated with it. With Advent we celebrate the already coming of Jesus Christ our Savior… but there is a not yet too.
We celebrate that first Advent in that little town of Bethlehem, and we look to His Second Advent when He will return, inaugurating His ultimate rule and reign for eternity.
There’s also this not yet part of Advent that helps us to realize that there is always more of God’s gift available for us to receive. We serve an eternal God who has eternal possibilities in store for us. Part of the longing of Advent is our longing to receive more of Him. We want to welcome more of Jesus into our lives, and hearts, and motives, and actions.
There is certainly a kind of more-more-more that may commonly come with Christmas… an insatiable consumerism that has little to do with our Savior. The rightful more that comes with Advent is opening our hearts and inviting more of Jesus into our lives.
Already but not yet…
Peace must be like that too, since there is so much around us that is not peace –
• War – Every newscast reminds us that we are waging war on a number of fronts
• Poverty – There is no peace when children are starving to death
• Danger – Peace isn’t even a reasonable fantasy when you are treated like a commodity and sold into slavery
These are the biggies; we need not even mention the little things that invade our peace every day… the bickering, and confusion, and selfishness, and uncertainty, and political debate and traffic.
Already-but-not-yet. Lord, we have faith for peace, but often times it is hard to see much peace around us today.
So what is the already part of our peace? What is the peace we have now that the Bible describes as the peace that passes all understanding? What do we mean by peace?
When announcing the birth of Jesus, the angels proclaimed “peace on earth,” as if Jesus would bring peace. We ought to be able to go to the red-letter passages, these words of Jesus, to understand peace.
But when we go to the words of Jesus, we find, more often I’m afraid, that Jesus confronted our common notions of peace. Listen to what Jesus said about peace in Matthew 10:
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’e
37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
We’d like to think that Jesus, ruling and reigning as Prince of Peace, would make all the bad things go away and bring us peace. We’d like simple answers… or maybe a genie or fairy god mother to grant our wishes. But Jesus doesn’t allow us this selfish peace; he won’t allow this sort of secular, humanist, self-centered, consumerist view of peace.
At the end of John 16, the passage that Pat read this morning, Jesus gives us another one of those great Bible promises:
“In this world you will have trouble.” Thanks for that promise!