Advent 3 – Making Peace

9197523314_d3eb934e5d_nOur friendship burned hot and fizzled furiously like a sparkler on Fourth of July. I can’t explain it, but the first time we laid eyes on each other we decided to become fast friends. Within a week I had invited her in to all of my intimate circles. We had coffee so often Guy asked if we had a standing date. Thinking I was helping her settle in to life in a new town, I spent more time with her than anyone outside my family.

Months later, a switch flipped. I had an uneasy suspicion something was wrong. She didn’t respond to my texts, but showed up at a gathering I had invited her to and tried to pretend away the conflict. Not one for pretense, I left in tears of confusion and spent the next week moping like a brokenhearted teenager.

Soon after she met with another friend who confirmed my hunch: like a character from The Twilight Zone, she was pleasant one minute and smiling yet nonsensical the next.

She called, eventually. She apologized but couldn’t explain; she tried, and when her words made it worse, she stopped trying. Still, she wanted to be friends. Grateful for her apology, I forgave her – I can genuinely wish her well – and explained that she had broken my trust and I couldn’t trust she wouldn’t do so again. I set a boundary, and I’m pretty sure it’s a healthy one.

She texted me after we hung up the phone:

Peace be with you.
I responded, And also with you.

She broke peace. Then she faked peace. With her apology she made peace, but she couldn’t restore friendship. And it’s okay.advent wreath

Advent Week 3 – Making Peace

Read and light three candles (two purple, one pink)The first candle represents the expectation of the One who will bring Peace. The second candle represents God’s peace in us. The third candle represents the call to make peace with one another.

Say aloud together: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Read Scripture: Romans 12:18

Read: Conflict comes to every relationship. Even with those we love most, maybe especially with them, our interactions can lead to disappointment, irritation, frustration. What do we do? We can be peace-fakers, denying our problems. We can be peace-breakers who angrily manipulate others. Or we can follow God’s lead and rely on His grace to become peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Pray: Dear God, may we love one another well so that the world will know we belong to you. In the name of Jesus we pray for peace, Amen.

 

Monday Psalm 133:1 Share about a time when you experienced unity among God’s people.
Tuesday Matthew 5:9 What does it mean to you to be God’s child?
Wednesday John 13:34-35 Why is love a distinguishing characteristic for Christ’s followers?
Thursday Romans 12:16 How does pride get in the way of peaceful relationships?
Friday Ephesians 4:2-3 How is patience related to peace?
Saturday Philippians 2:2-4 To what “interests of others” can you pay more attention?

 

Another blog I’m enjoying this Advent: lessnerismore. Grab a mug/cup of something warm and tasty and set aside a few minutes to check out her daily Advent blog.

 

Advent 1 – Expecting Peace

Stating the obvious: we do not live in a peaceful world. War and rumors of war. School shootings. Crime in all its variety. Job stress. Illness. Divorce. Even in my everyday mundane suburban life, peace seems elusive.

So today’s title made me wonder: do I expect peace?

Maybe my faith is too small. Maybe my focus is off. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and I’m a tightly-wound stress ball.

Maybe I’m operating with the wrong definition. The peace promised in Scripture is shalom, wholeness. It has less to do with lack of conflict or strife and more to do with God’s presence. Emmanuel, God with us.peace

Filled as it is with gatherings of family and friends, candlelight, holiday food, gift-giving and receiving, Christmastime may be the busiest – and least peaceful – time of year. Celebrating Advent helps us to refocus on the Prince of Peace, to be intentional about Christ in Christmas. During Advent (Latin for “coming”) we celebrate God coming to dwell among us in Jesus. We open our hearts to how God wants to come into our lives now. And we look forward in hopeful anticipation of everlasting life with God.

The Advent wreath candle lighting tradition is one meaningful way to celebrate God’s coming. The wreath (a circle) signifies eternity – God is, was and always will be. Three purple candles represent royalty and repentance; one pink candle (for week three) represents joy. The white center candle represents the divine nature of the baby Jesus. Evergreens represent everlasting life in Jesus and His everlasting love for us. The candlelight itself symbolizes Jesus, the Light of the World. Each week we light one more candle, lighting the center candle on Christmas to signify that the light of Jesus Christ has come into the world.advent wreath

 

My prayer for this season? To expect peace as I set aside time to worship the Prince of Peace. As The Message puts it in Philippians 4:6-7, “Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness [peace, shalom], everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” I want Christ to displace worry, for me and for you, and so I offer these Advent readings. May Peace be with you!

Advent Week 1 – Expecting Peace

Read and light the first candle (middle purple candle)The first candle represents the expectation of the One who will bring Peace.

Say aloud together: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Read Scripture: Ezekiel 37:26-27 and Isaiah 9:6-7

Read: The prophets spoke God’s words of promised peace to distressed people. Walking in darkness, living in deep darkness, the people had lost their joy. Hold on, declares the Lord, I’m coming. I will shine my light in your darkness. I will establish my peaceful kingdom in your midst. I will send the Prince of Peace to rule over you with justice and righteousness. I will do this because I am your God and you are my people. I am zealous for you. Expect my peace. It will come.

Pray: Dear God, we look forward to your arrival and we eagerly expect your peace. In the name of Jesus we wait and pray, Amen.

 

Monday Psalm 40:1-3 How do you actively wait for the Lord?
Tuesday Isaiah 9:2 How have you seen God’s light during a dark time in your life?
Wednesday  Isaiah 9:6 What does it mean in your everyday life that Jesus is the Prince of Peace?
Thursday Ezekiel 37:26-27 How can you remain aware of God with you?
Friday Micah 7:7 How has God responded to your hopeful watching?
Saturday Luke 12:40 How do you prepare for the Son of Man’s return?