Summary: ADVENT 2, YEAR A - When chaos twirls around us, head for the eye of the storm where the peace of God reigns. There you will find Jesus the Prince of Peace.
Have you heard the story about the two middle-age women who were out on a Christmas shopping spree. They had purchased many gifts and they had dozens of packages stuffed into the trunk of the car. As they were driving home they passed by a local church where the caretaker was assembling the illuminated creche on the front lawn and putting up the other decorations. The church sign invited the community to the annual Christmas Eve Service. One of the women said to the other, "Why does the church try to take over everything! Look at that church, trying to horn in on Christmas.” Have you ever noticed how it seems each following year the stores start putting out Christmas decorations earlier and earlier. I’m almost sure that somewhere I saw Christmas decorations waiting to go up before Thanksgiving. You all know how the season goes. There are the Christmas specials on television for the children to watch. Then there are the seemingly ceaseless round of parties, concerts, and the bring a $5 gift potluck suppers. And let us not forget the holiday tradition of spending money you don’t have, on gifts no one wants, for people you don’t even like.
For a long time the church has tried to shout above the din, “Stop, Remember the Reason for this Season. Stop, remember that this Birth is supposed to be a life changing and world changing event. Slow down, take time to smell the poinsettias, take time to prepare." And how have we tried to get you to slow down? Why, by filling in the gaps in your Christmas season with our standard fare of Advent Candles, and Christmas pageants, Christmas hymns, and candle lighting. And so the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier, to get busier and busier, and around and around we go with nobody able to get off. So let me ask you, is there a difference during this Christmas season between what the world offers you out there and what your church offers you in here? Is there a difference? Should there be a difference? Does it make any difference whether or not there is a difference? The Christmas season can make many of us feel as if we are riding a merry-go-round. Then add to the holiday all that has been going on since Sept 11th and the merry-go-round has now turned into a tornado. And around and around we go, faster and faster with no stop in sight. And so many of us are looking for words of encouragement to help us to find a moment of peace in the midst of our twirling chaos. But I’ve got to say the president’s words, “Buy, Buy, Buy” just seem to add more push to my spinning.
Have you ever tried talking to someone while they are on a merry-go-round? You call out in snips of conversation as they swing by. This is what its like for the prophet Isaiah as he calls out to us in the midst of our chaotic twirling. “--- shall come--- --- the lamb --- --- a little child ---” Did you get all that? Constantly moving but getting nowhere. But did you know that in every tornado and in every hurricane there is at it’s center what is called the eye. In the eye there is total peace, surrounded by twirling chaos. Isaiah is trying to tell us that God has promised to send forth a divine eye to dwell in the midst our storming lives. An eye of peace for a life of twirling chaos. But in our mad dash spinning about do we hear him? Through Isaiah God is asking us, Do you want to find a place of peace? Then move into the eye of the storm. “Be anxious for nothing,” the apostle Paul writes, “but in all things, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is not a peace devoid of anxiety and chaos, but a peace that makes it’s home in the very center of our anxiety and chaos. A peace that comes only from a child sent from heaven above into the chaos of our world. For the Christ who was born one Christmas day came to offer us all an Easter peace. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Though the combined might of Satan, the cross, and the grave would rail against the Christ, their power would be broken by the unmoving presence of his forgiving peace. A peace that is ours, not by might or merit or by the power of our own will. It is a peace that is ours only by our willing submission to the Christ, that will be the key that opens the door to peace.