To begin, David referred to the five characteristics of Simeon outlined last week: devout, righteous, expectant, Spirit-led, and servant. The initial letters of these spell the word DRESS. David urged us to use this acronym to seek these qualities for ourselves.
Our second Advent candle is the candle of Peace and our reading is Luke 2:8-15. In this passage a choir of angels sings to a group of shepherds:
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST HEAVEN, AND ON EARTH PEACE TO THOSE ON WHOM HIS FAVOUR RESTS.
Yet there is bitter conflict in so many parts of our world today. Indeed, there have been battles fought throughout human history – so where is this promised peace on earth? David asked, is there more to the peace of Christmas than we realise?
The answer is a resounding yes! God’s peace is to those on whom His favour rests. It is about knowing peace personally and being at peace. After the return of Jesus, there will be unimaginable world peace, even affecting the animal kingdom. But for now, the peace of Christmas is about what we can experience through Jesus.
Peace is a person – Jesus. Believing in him, knowing him, we have peace – with God, with ourselves, with others. In Micah 5, the prophet predicts not just that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, but that he ‘will be our peace’. The same is declared in the New Testament:
FOR HE HIMSELF IS OUR PEACE…
How can Jesus be our peace? The angel of the Lord spoke to shepherds – lowly men who represent ordinary people (us). He said:
I BRING YOU GOOD NEWS THAT WILL CAUSE GREAT JOY FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. TODAY IN THE TOWN OF DAVID A SAVIOUR HAS BEEN BORN TO YOU; HE IS CHRIST THE LORD.
What is the difficulty that Christ saves us from? The angel told Joseph that he would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). All of us are born in sin, separated from God, unable to enjoy the relationship with Him that we were created for, estranged from our heavenly Father. We are, in fact, His enemies.
But the Christmas good news of great joy for all people is that a Saviour has been born. He will go on to die on a cross to reconcile us to God. Those reconciled to God are no longer His enemies but are at peace with Him, our relationship restored. Back in the Old Testament, Isaiah said:
… THE PUNISHMENT THAT BROUGHT US PEACE WAS UPON HIM.
Jesus is the reason for celebrating this season. Simeon had waited expectantly all his life to see the Messiah, and when he did, he said he could now die in peace; at peace with God and with peace within, undisturbed by the prospect of death.
DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERY SITUATION, BY PRAYER AND PETITION, WITH THANKSGIVING, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS TO GOD. AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS.
As a result of our relationship with God, we can dialogue with Him in prayer and know peace of heart and mind. In the midst of difficulty and crisis, peace is possible: peace with God and peace within leading to a life of peace with others.
IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE AT PEACE WITH EVERYONE.
Christians have the Holy Spirit within to produce his fruit in our lives, including peace. David encouraged us to consider this Advent the dimension of peace with others and try to defuse tense situations or relationships in which we are involved.
Peace on earth at Christmas does not mean the absence of all strife. But because of the first Advent, we can know peace, here and now, because peace is personal and peace is a Person; we can have peace within and live at peace with others.