Advent – Imagine Peace

Advent – Imagine Peace

Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain

Last Sunday Kevin helped explored Christmas HOPE and the anticipation that a time was coming when weapons of war would be transformed into ploughs. Is this what PEACE is about? In our reading this week is also from Isaiah – Isaiah chapter 9, were find that this promised saviour will also be called the Prince of PEACE … but what sort of peace is this referring to? Using some Christmas symbols that we find around, Phil helps us explore what it means for us to find peace at Christmas and to create some space to find some inner peace in the midst of the busyness and chaos of this season.

Sermon Text:

Reflection #1 – Advent Candles – PEACE

Zoom in the candles and the wreath.

Debate on where the tradition of the candles came from.

Borrowed from Hanukkah – the Jewish Festival of light which is also celebrated around now

Middle ages, where a large candle was used to represent the star of Bethlehem.

Martin Luther … Candle to acknowledge Jesus ‘the Light of the World’

Tradition of the Wreath

Borrowed from the Ancient Rome tradition of the wreath symbolising victory or greatness. Also the circular shape, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or never ending.

For us, the candles represent the hope, peace, love and joy that point to Jesus.  Let’s hear from our Bible Reading..

Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7

Already we have lit our candles of Hope and Love.  Today we light the Third Candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace.

We remember the prophets who spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a Saviour would be born, a king in the line of King David. The prophet Isaiah called Christ “the Prince of Peace”.

When Jesus came he taught people the importance of being peace-makers and said that those who make peace shall be called the children of God.  To his followers, Jesus offered them peace and offers everlasting peace to us as well.

We light the Candle of Peace to remind us that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that through him peace is found – peace that passes all understanding. 

God, send your light of your spirit to the dark places of this world – bringing Peace to all but especially to those who affected by fear, war, violence, or disruptions. 

As we look to the light of this candle we celebrate the peace we have in Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, Light of the World, the prophets said you would bring peace and save your people from trouble.

Give peace in our hearts this Christmas.

We ask as Christ comes to us this Christmas,

That he will help us live lives of peace

and be peacemakers in our communities.

Help us today and every day to worship you, to hear your word, and to do your will by sharing your hope with others.

We ask it in the name of the one who was born in Bethlehem. Amen.

Reflection #2 – Longing for Peace

Zoom in the Christmas Star on the tree Represents the star of Bethlehem .. the star the pointed the way to Jesus.

The magi said in Matthew 2 that the star rose to signify the birth of a king.  But this was not any ordinary king.  Listen to the way that Micah prophesied about this coming newborn king as quoted in Matthew 2:6

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Can you see this – not a king who will rule with fear and power but one who will be like a shepherd – one who will show love and care, one who will offer help and ultimately one who will save!  As Kevin picked up in his sermon last week – Jesus is not a king who uses war and violence to maintain control but instead Jesus focuses on … peace.

The star pointed the way to Jesus … so did John the Baptist … John through his ministry pointed people towards the path of peace.

What does it mean for us to be a signpost for Jesus – the prince of peace?  How do we help direct people to see Jesus and see the love, joy, hope and peace that Jesus brings?

Zoom in on the Manger, the Prince of Peace…

Christmas is a time of busyness, rush, visual noise, sometimes chaos – not usually a time for peace.

What dopes it mean for us to find inner peace at Christmas?

Spiritual discipline of silence…

[Peace bible verses on the screen]

Silent Night.

Reflection #3 – Jesus, Prince of Peace

Zoom in on the Baubles.  Tradition in the 1800’s was to hang fruit on the tree … partly because they were cheap and because you could also eat them … but also because they represented the life found in Jesus and the fruits of the spirit which the Holy Spirit grow in our lives.

Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 says, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Today we have been focusing on peace and the peace that Jesus bring to us and to the world.  But as Christians we have the understand that the mission of Jesus has been passed onto us … that we also are ambassadors for peace.  It is our calling to not only grow peace in our lives (like the fruit) but be peace makers in this world.  “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”

3 practical ideas:

  1. Pray for peace … prayer of Assisi … make me a channel of your peace.
  2. Be a peace-maker.  Jesus in Matthew 5:9 said,Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  Christmas gatherings can be stressful … how can you be the one who brings peace.
  3. Take some time out with Jesus and allow Jesus to grow peace within you … inner peace.