‘What’s in a Name?’ – Advent 4

Today – the fourth Sunday of Advent – we completed the Advent series by looking at the final name for Jesus from Isaiah 9:

"FOR TO US A CHILD IS BORN, TO US A SON IS GIVEN, AND THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS. AND HE WILL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELLOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE."

Isaiah 9:6

David began by posing a rhetorical question: Who doesn’t like or want peace? Clearly, we all long for it and yet it often seems hard to find and even harder to keep. We live at a time and in a culture and context where anxiety levels are often high and where people appear to be (increasingly) restless and anxious, summed up this week by one social commentator as ‘a time of division, upheaval and unrest’. Temporary glimpses or experiences of peace may come, but for many there is no sense of lasting peace.

As David lit the fourth Advent candle, we were encouraged to reflect on its meaning of Peace and to focus on Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Because of this name and because of his coming, we can know peace at three levels:

  • Eternally: peace with God forever
  • Externally: peace with others
  • Internally: peace within

 

Peace with God
This is the basis of all true peace and is fundamental to peace with others and peace within ourselves. When Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed:

"GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST HEAVEN, AND ON EARTH PEACE TO THOSE ON WHOM HIS FAVOUR RESTS."

Luke 2:14

This is why Jesus came – to bring us peace with God. The Bible teaches that we need this peace because we are not naturally at peace – we go our own rebellious way and so are actually enemies of God:

"…WHILE WE WERE GOD’S ENEMIES, WE WERE RECONCILED TO HIM THROUGH THE DEATH OF HIS SON."

Romans 5:10

‘Reconciled’ simply means that the relationship is restored through the death of Jesus. One writer put it like this:

"THE PRIMARY CONDITION OF OUR HEARTS IS NOT IGNORANCE SO THAT YOU NEED EDUCATION, OR INDIFFERENCE SO THAT YOU NEED MOTIVATION, BUT RATHER HOSTILITY SO THAT YOU NEED RECONCILIATION."

Tim Keller

At Christmas time we often sing the carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, which includes these lines:

"PEACE ON EARTH AND MERCY MILD, GOD AND SINNERS RECONCILED."

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

That’s what real peace means!

Are you at peace with God today?

Peace with others
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said:

"“BLESSED ARE THE PEACE-MAKERS.”

Matthew 5:9

Many times in scripture, those who follow Jesus – who do know peace with God – are urged to live at peace with others:

"IF IT IS POSSIBLE, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, LIVE AT PEACE WITH EVERYONE."

ROMANS 12:18

Living at peace with others is a challenge at times but it is possible, because the Prince of Peace lives within us and the fruit He is producing in our lives includes peace.

Are you a peacemaker and do you know and enjoy external peace in your relationships with others?

Peace within
David acknowledged that many in the congregation today may be feeling anxious and in turmoil, not peaceful or calm.

Whenever we are at peace with God (through Jesus), our relationship with Him is restored, dialogue opens up and we can talk to Him about anything, even what is creating division, upheaval and unrest. God’s Word brings us this reassurance:

"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."

Philippians 4:6-7

As David pointed out, this doesn’t mean that every problem disappears, or that we will never face difficulties in life, but it does mean that peace is possible in the midst of mess.

When Jesus appeared to his disciples after he had risen from the dead, he greeted them with these words:

“PEACE BE WITH YOU.” (John 20:19)

He greets us today with the same words. May we know his peace eternally, externally and internally.

Dorothy McMillan

Dorothy McMillan

I’m Dorothy and I coordinate the Deep Dives part of the WBC website. I’ve been a member of WBC for over 25 years and have worked as a teacher, playgroup leader and college lecturer. Now that I have retired, I enjoy doing patchwork, reading and spending time with our four wonderful grandchildren.
Dorothy McMillan
I’m Dorothy and I coordinate the Deep Dives part of the WBC website. I’ve been a member of WBC for over 25 years and have worked as a teacher, playgroup leader and college lecturer. Now that I have retired, I enjoy doing patchwork, reading and spending time with our four wonderful grandchildren.