SER # 40V
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
COLOR: PURPLE OR BLUE
SUNDAY DECEMBER 22ND 2019
TEXTS: LUKE 2: 8 – 14
THEME: CHRISTMAS GIFT THAT WON’T BREAK – PEACE
Today marks the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We light our fourth purple candle of Peace, which symbolizes the prince of peace.
This Advent we are studying an Advent book “Christmas Gifts that Won’t Break: Expanded Edition with Devotions” by James W. Moore and Jacob Armstrong; Abingdon Press 2017).
Last Sunday we shared about JOY as a gift that changes us from inside out. Joy brings a new spirit within us and all that we are involved in.
This Sunday we would like to examine the gift of PEACE.
The Hebrew word that translate peace is Shalom while the Greek work is Eirene. Shalom has a root on Salaam which is a greeting.
Shalom or peace can be experienced in three ways: a) Shalom as tranquility, calmness and restfulness. b) A state or period in which there is no war, or war has ended. It could also be seen as when there is law and order or lawfulness. c) It can also be experienced when there is a ceremonial handshake or kiss exchanged during the service. We sometimes try to pass peace in the church by greeting the person next to us.
Jesus is the prince of peace. The peace we have come from God and it is a special peace that passes all understanding and only God can give this kind of peace.
In the Christmas story we story Mary a virgin girl being invited to be part of the big story. Though afraid she accepted the challenge and stepped out in faith and accepted to be the earthly mother of Jesus. Joseph was also included in the Christmas story. Joseph is invited to take Mary who was carrying a baby (Jesus) who was not his. Though afraid like many would be accepted the challenged and stepped up and took the responsibilities. Then we see the shepherds being invited to be part of the big story. They were called to be the first witnesses of the little baby Jesus in the manger. They were the one who heard the Angels choir what a privilege they had. Though afraid the stepped out in obedience and went to worship the king Jesus.
Christmas is about God coming into the lives of fear filled and bring the peace and
confirm to them that they are included in the story.
As we explore the Shalom, we remind ourselves in the sense we use it here is it represents harmony, prosperity, completeness, wholeness, welfare and tranquility.
There are three ways that we can accept and experience the git of peace (Shalom) during this season of Christmas:
- The Gift of Peace with God: Jesus birth was the coming to fulfil the prophecy of the coming of the prince of peace. It was Jesus who was to come and offer the world the peace that passes all understanding. Through Jesus we get reconciled with God our creator. Over time we drift away from God by what we do and what we don’t do. We can only have peace with God when we keen the connection. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and unless we stay connected to the vine, we have no peace with God. Jesus is our mediator, a pathway the bridge and the gate that connects us to our creator. Through this connection we experience the peace that passes all understanding.
- The Gift of Peace with Ourselves: We have to feel good about ourselves first before we have to feel good about others. We need to be right with ourselves. We can feel good by inviting the prince of peace in our lives. When we allow shalom in our lives it brings harmony, wholeness and completeness. There is complete satisfaction even when all things around are not stable. The inner peace is important because it is what we can control. When there is shalom, we experience completeness and there is serenity. Shalom is always positive. We are able to pass this peace because the prince of peace lives in us through the Holy Spirit that lives in us.
- The Gift of Peace with Others: We experience peace when we are willing to made broken fences in our relationships. We have to be willing to seek forgiveness where we have longed others so as to experience peace. We have to be willing to fix broken relationship by our willingness to put pride aside. We have to be willing to act now and not postpone issues. We have to be willing to drop all grudges and resentments that we have been carrying around for a long time. Everybody loves peace (except a few) and would like peace everywhere. But the bible does not call us to be peace lovers but peace makers. “Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). The question we need to ask is how can we be the peace makers at our work place at our family gathering, in my church, at our group meeting. We have to remind ourselves that shalom is relational. Some of the ingredients one experiences when there is shalom is humility, patience and love. We live as people who have encountered peace in our lives. Our call is to try and bring this peace to our families, our offices, our social media posts and to the whole world where we find ourselves.