2nd Sunday of Advent

The Peace Candle

Luke 1:68-79

68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
    because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
70     just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
71 He has brought salvation from our enemies
    and from the power of all those who hate us.
72 He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
    and remembered his holy covenant,
73         the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted 74 that we would be rescued
        from the power of our enemies
    so that we could serve him without fear,
75         in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes,
            for as long as we live.
76 You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
    for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
77 You will tell his people how to be saved
    through the forgiveness of their sins.
78 Because of our God’s deep compassion,
    the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
79     to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
        to guide us on the path of peace.”

Reflection

Zechariah’s song at the birth of his son, John, expresses hundreds of years of pent-up emotion within God’s people.  At long last, they had realized the hope of the LORD, their salvation was at hand. His song ends with the acknowledgment that all that God is doing through John is to accomplish peace. The second candle of the Advent wreath symbolizes the peace which comes from God. Peace is an undervalued word in our modern world, so often it is used to mean the absence of violence. The modern Christmas song Someday at Christmas invites us to visualize a world without war, but is such a world truly at peace? Does peace come when people stop resolving their conflict with violence, or is there a deeper meaning to peace? If God wants us to live in a state of peace, Jesus came to bring peace, it must be more than the absence of violence. Peace must reflect the state of rest that God envisioned for humanity in the Garden of Eden.

Zechariah speaks of forgiveness of sins, and restoration of justice in the world. Too often we want to separate personal holiness from social justice, but as Zechariah shows they belong together because they are two halves of God’s peace. Peace is wholeness and harmony, both within myself and my community. People are at peace when they are whole and in right relationship with God. Communities are at peace when everyone is living for justice and harmony. For peace to come to communities, peace must also reign in the hearts of the people who make up the communities. In the Bible the same word means both righteousness and justice, personal righteousness is necessary for social justice to be present. My world cannot be at peace unless I am working on creating peace in my own heart. The hollow absence of conflict is not peace it is despair. Peace comes when we fill ourselves with the character of God and begin to live out the wholeness we experience in the Spirit.

Prince of Peace, I am too often concerned with myself and not interested in how I live with others. Help me to realize the harmony you bring to humanity in my own life; and help me to bring peace to the world around me.  Amen.

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