Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent 2016 : The Prince of Peace Week 1 (Sun., Nov. 27th/16)

For our theme, “The Prince of Peace,” we will use the acronym “P.E.A.C.E.” for our outline as we follow the meaning of the Advent Wreath. We begin with the starting point for God’s people, where there was “no peace”, and move forward to the provision made by Christ, which is that we can “know peace.”
P—Prophecy (Prophecy Candle, also known as the Candle of Hope--purple candle)
E- Expectation (Bethlehem Candle, also known as the Candle of Preparation—purple candle)
A- Announcement (Shepherds Candle or Candle of Joy—pink candle)
C- Celebration (Angels Candle, also known as Candle of Love)
E—Emmanuel (the Christ Candle)

Let’s begin with “P”, for the purple Prophecy Candle, also known as the Candle of Hope.  The prophet, Isaiah emphasized, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
 light! sunbursts of light!” (Isa. 9:3, MSG). Who are these people? They are God’s chosen people, who have been walking in darkness since Adam and Eve disobeyed, fell from His grace, and were expelled from the Garden of Eden, (Gen. Chpt. 3). But what composed this ‘darkness’? There were many factors, such as daily hardships for survival, famine, slavery (e.g., captivity in Egypt and Babylon), wars, murders, pillaging, sorrow, oppression, depression, heartache, fear, jealousy, and anger. So, it’s interesting to hear people quote the reference, “As in the days of Noah…” (Mt. 22:37) as the ‘signs of the end of times”, because all historical periods have had their ‘days of Noah’, with wars and rumours of wars, angry, out-of-control people doing whatever they want while others suffer the consequences.

Yet, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Many of God’s chosen people are still walking in darkness. How can this be? Throughout history, both in the Church and in the world, there have been many circumstances and stances that have created an environment of secrecy and covert operations, which resulted in the destruction of human life, spirit, and hope. Sadly, too many Christians have given up their identity, their call to be set apart from the world, to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” (Mt.5:16).Instead, many Christians have re-emerge with the world’s standards and its darkness. But throughout time, God has been, and continues to be, moved by the cries and the plights of His people. So, in the midst of their/our darkness, “The people …have seen a great light.” That Light was the promise of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, a promise spelled out by Isaiah, “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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” (Isa.9:6).  Being ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world can be complicated at times and at other times non-Christ- like attitudes and behaviours can ‘creep in’ without us noticing. Our challenge is to examine our lives before God and to ask Him to show us areas where we may have ‘returned to the world’. In a troubled world, we want to clearly hold out His hope, love, and peace to those desperately seeking these gifts in their lives.

Suggested Scripture Readings for Week 1 of Advent:

Mon.  Isa. 9: 1-5
Tues.  Isa. 9: 6-7
Wed.   Col. 3: 12-15
Thurs.  Heb. 12: 14-15
Fri.       James 3: 13-18
Sat.       Eph. 2: 13-18

Elizabeth Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

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