Saturday, December 24, 2016

Advent 2016: Prince of Peace, Week 4 (Sun., Dec. 18/16)

We have completed four weeks of our Prince of P.E.A.C.E. themed Advent journey via studying one of the letters in the acronym each week of Advent : “P” for “Prophecy”, and the hope that was restored by the Light (Is. 9:2); “E” for “Expectations” regarding Messiah, and how many could not fathom a King being born in circumstances only fit for peasants; “A” for the “Announcement” of Christ’s birth by the Angels to the shepherds; and, “C” for “Celebration” by the angels (and most of the participants in the Nativity narrative). Today we focus on “E” for “Emmanuel”, and the last candle in the Advent wreath, the white Christ candle, which is lit on Christmas Eve or on Christmas day.

Emmanuel: The Birth of the Prince of Peace

Have you ever heard young couples declaring that they are expecting their first baby and how quickly they rush to assure you that it won’t change anything? However, most parents know that a baby changes everything: spontaneity is replaced with advanced planning and preparation. So we smile knowingly; because they will quickly learn that many aspects of their lifestyles will change (e.g., less free time and learning to adapt to parenthood). On the other hand, there will also be great joy and wonder as they see the world through their child’s eyes.

Mary and Joseph didn’t have much time to get to know one another as newlyweds. Yes, they had visitations from angels and recognized that this baby was God’s son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and entrusted to into their care. Yet, an interesting difference between them and most couples is that in addition to seeing the world through their child’s eyes, Jesus was coming to experience life through their (our) eyes. Additionally, Mary and Joseph would have been familiar with Isaiah’s prophecy that Messiah would be born to a virgin, the many names by which He would be known, and the nature of His mission (9: 6-7). Yet they were surprised to be chosen to be Emmanuel’s (God with us) earthly parents, with responsibility for rearing Jesus (Whom would save His people from their sins). For them, the transition to parenthood included dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, a 90-mile (120 km) road trip near the end of Mary’s pregnancy, arriving in Bethlehem, travel-worn with no accommodations available, giving birth in a stable, and the enormous accountability of raising God’s Son. And on that night long ago, Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace was born. He “…became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood,” (John 1:14, MSG)

The Prince of Peace ‘became flesh and blood’. Why? So that He could experience life the way that we do and offer His transformational power, which enables us to live meaningful lives now (Heb. 4:15-16) and the promise of eternal life later. Jesus’ taught us that we can have His peace to rise above the difficulties in life. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (Jn. 14:27, NIV).

Life is challenging at the best of times. However, I hope that as we have taken this journey of P.E.A.C.E. together, that we have drawn closer to our Saviour and have begun to glean His peace for our lives.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

Please Note: there will be 2 more articles in this Prince of Peace series: New Year’s, which will focus on how we can get and hold onto His peace in our lives; and Epiphany--Jan. 6th, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem.

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