Ready for peace?
â€œHe will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barnâ€
Thank you for joining as we continue in this time of expectation awaiting the Lordâ€™s return.
Last Sunday we considered hope, the first Advent theme, acknowledging that our confidence and surety are in Christ Jesus Who delivers on all Godâ€™s promises, most particularly on the help that is ours so we may live out the gospel. We also reminded ourselves to â€˜pencil inâ€™ Jesusâ€™ return every day so that we might be ready for that day when all of our hope is fulfilled.
The second standardized theme for this Sunday of Advent is that of peace.
If we have hope, we tend to also have its cognate which is peace. Think of it this way â€“ if we are sure of what is to come, what is being delivered to us, how could we possibly be uneasy or not at peace?
In Isaiah we are painted a picture of perfect peace. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kidâ€¦ The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain.
All this vision and all its implications are about the coming of the Lord Jesus, for all in the Old Testament points to Him, the Gospels reveal Him fully, Acts preaches Him, the Epistles teach Him, and Revelation points to His return. Reaching Isaiahâ€™s vision does not depend on us, we cannot achieve it, only the King of Peace, theÂ Root of JesseÂ can, and we can share in His perfect peace, but only if we believe.Â
God sent Jesus into the world to bring us a peace that is beyond all understanding. The Roman Caesars and governors, the Russian, Chinese, and North Korean communists, the Nazis, the Jihadists â€“ not a one can understand why the earthly holds no fear for us. We know it is because those who have given their whole selves to Christ find peace that overcomes every kind of evil.
John comes, crying out in the desert, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Often, it seems to us, that such a statement is accusatory. Who are you to tell me to repent? Our offense at the cry of the Prophet, of whom Jesus said there was no greater man born of woman, is an internal failure on our part. We must own up to what is wrong, those places we refuse to surrender to Jesus.
That little reserve of â€˜I am a rock, I am an islandâ€™ in us needs to be dashed on our Rock, the Prince of Peace. We need to let Him baptize us in the Spirit, with a fire that burns away fear and anxiety, a fire that frees and releases us to everlasting peace. In peace we rest in hope. In peace we see clearly what must be done and shared, and we acknowledge that no one and nothing can take it from us.