dec. 7 - peace

by Rev. Brett Opalinski, Christ UMC, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read Matthew 11:25-30 and Philippians 4:7

I confess, one of my favorite Christmas movies is the classic Christmas Vacation. We watch it every year in my house. Though a bit exaggerated, there is something in us that can identify with the chaos of the season and the humor of trying to manufacture the perfect peace-filled Christmas within the realities of family dynamics, work stress, and hard to love neighbors. In celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace, it is easy to become the servants of stress.

One of the myths of this season is that Christmas came into a perfect, peaceful and serene world. As much as I love the classic carol Silent Night, it probably wasn't all that silent. It probably looked less like a Thomas Kinkade Christmas painting and more like a Griswold family Christmas: the sounds of animals and childbirth, the noises of everyday life, the cries of hunger and violence, the loud argumentative voices of a divided people. In Advent, we anticipate a messiah born not into a perfect world, but a fearful, stressed out, overly busy, and angry world. That is what makes the story so beautiful.

In these days of Advent, in our own fearful, stressed out, busy, and angry world we await the birth of the Prince of Peace into our hearts, our churches, our communities, our world. God doesn’t come when everything is in perfect harmony, but when all seems to be falling apart. This is good news! Where in your life chaos do you need the Prince of Peace to be born? Where in the world can you look for God’s peace?

The great Christian spiritual writer Thomas Merton once said, If you yourself are at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world.” Jesus came to bring God’s peace into chaotic hearts and a fearful world. May we all make room in ourselves that God’s peace may live in us and hence through us. As we do, the world changes one person at a time.

Prince of Peace ... give us your peace ... that we may face the chaos and fear of our lives and the world not with anger, resentment or judgment, but with your heart! For this we pray ... for this we wait with Advent anticipation. Amen.

Litany for the Second Week of Advent

Our hearts cry out from the darkest night,
Bring your peace, O God.
Our money and our things will not satisfy,
Bring your peace, O God.
Our drive and ambition leaves us weary,
Bring your peace, O God.
Our judgments and fears leave us cold,
Bring your peace, O God.
We cause violence with word and deed.
Bring your peace, O God.
We can be so much more than all these things.
Bring your peace, O God.
Life can be joy-filled and loving.
Bring your peace, O God.
It begins now, in this moment, in me,
Bring your peace, O God ... today. Amen.

On this Sunday of Peace, open your jar of M & M candies marked, “Peace” and read the litany together from today’s devotional. As you share in this special dessert together, talk about the theme of peace. 

What do you think of when you think of peace? What images, thoughts or feelings come to mind?  When is a time when you feel most peaceful? Take time together and pray for peace for your own hearts and for the whole world.