“… December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
December 7, 1941
Those words from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to congress and the nation signified that the United States was about to go to war- peace had been interrupted. Yesterday we took a look at the tradition of Advent and the first candle of the advent season- HOPE. Tonight we will look at the second candle of advent- PEACE. One of my favorite things about advent is that there is so much symbolism in the advent season and the advent wreath. Advent is typically associated the Catholic church, but many of the protestant denominations have picked it up, particularly the Methodists. I grew up in Johnson City and spent most of my early life as a member of First United Methodist Church. Advent was a staple in December for us. When I met my wife and became Baptist, the tradition was not as prevalent and it wasn’t until just a few years ago, that we started observing it in our church service. However, even as I grew up around the practice of advent, I never put any effort into understanding what it meant. Now that I am a pastor, its rich tradition and very scriptural meanings continue to fascinate me and they allow me to look back on past advents and say to myself, “Ahhhhh, I get it now.”
Perhaps it is fitting that we discuss this particular candle on Pearl Harbor Day. I mean, to say that we live in a tumultuous world would kind of be an understatement. You see, we have been at war all of our lives. If any of my youth are reading this now, they could quote what I am about to say, because, well….let’s just say it was a recurring theme last year. Since the day we were born there has been a war raging around us. We are caught in the epic battle between the truth of Jesus Christ and the lies of the world. Each day, we have a choice to make, a choice of how we will live our life that day. Sometimes we choose wisely and sometimes we don’t. Many times, no one can really tell which side we are on, simply because we jump from one side to the other constantly. This behavior is very disheartening and confusing to people trying to figure out Christianity. So, why are we at war to begin with? What caused this outbreak of hostilities? Much like Pearl Harbor, man was hit with a sneak attack. This war began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When original sin became a part of our DNA, we were forever plunged into a life that constantly struggles between the ways of righteousness that glorify God and the sinful desires of our own flesh. The very worst part is that this rift between man and God is not a gap that we can bridge. We are forever separated from a life with God….or we were.
The second day of advent celebrates the ultimate peace, the ultimate gift of negotiation. We celebrate the coming of the perfect mediator for our lives, the One who brought peace to our souls once again- Jesus. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” When Jesus came to this Earth, He came fully aware that He was a living sacrifice on our behalf to the Father. He was the atonement, the propitiation, He was the peace offering.
The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. This is the common greeting to Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection. Jesus was the peace, the peace that passes all understanding. The peace that Jesus gave us by first His birth, and then by His resurrection, had been foretold since the beginning of sin and the canyon that opened up to separate us from God. You see, before the peace of Christ came on this Earth, this peace was prophesied to many. That is why the other name for this candle is the prophesy candle. The prophesy in Genesis that the son of woman would crush the head of Satan. The prophesy mentioned earlier in Isaiah as a testament to the identity of Christ. The prophesy of John the Baptist in Malachi, and the prophesy of the Bethlehem in Micah. These prophesies became the peace that was manifested in Jesus to save us from our sins and to bridge a gap that we could never close. John 14:25-27 outlines a promise given to His disciples by Jesus. A promise of the Holy Spirit that would become their teacher. The scripture says:
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
This is a promise for peace of mind. A peace of mind that we all need. A peace of mind that teaches us and reminds us that no matter how tough life gets, Jesus’ peace is here for us, a peace that tells us He’s got this. You may have heard people say that God will give you nothing that you can’t handle. I don’t subscribe to that idea. You see, I believe that God WILL give you something that you can’t handle, so that we are forced to rely on Him. When we rely on Him and let Him be the leader of our lives, the peace that passes all understanding makes its way into our lives. So tonight and tomorrow in church, if you are doing an advent wreath, when they light that candle, keep in mind that the peace offering for us has been given to God in the form of the blood of Jesus Christ. Shalom, Peace be with you.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Transcript of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt speech to Congress, 12-8-41, accessed at http://www.americanrhetoric.com
Angie Mosteller http://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=1423