Advent: Week Four

Advent Week Four: Peace

Fourth Sunday of Advent. This is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Today light all four candles. The first Sunday the candle of hope was lit. The second Sunday the candle of love was lit. Last Sunday the candle of joy was lit. This Sunday light the candle of Peace. The world is not always a peaceful world. People hurt each other. Countries are at war. People don't take care of the world. People yell and scream at each other. But God promises peace. We pray we will seek God's peace during advent.

(Light the first, second, third and fourth candles.)

Sing or read the first verse of "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark street shineth the everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Remember God's promise of peace when looking at the fourth candle. Recall the words of Jesus in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." It is hard to remember Jesus is the one who brings peace in times of war and hatred. Let's remember God intends peace.

Read Luke 2:1-20 New Revised Standard Version

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."

Reflect: The shepherds may have not felt very peaceful when they heard the words of the angel. They were probably scared and confused. Yet they followed those words, trusting in God. Sometimes we look around and see a different message from the message of peace. Yet we, like the shepherds, can follow God's words and trust in God's promises. This Scripture is a reminder when we are fearful, we are often not thinking of peace. The angels calm the shepherds and send them forward with a task. Who in the world needs God's peace? What is your hope for peace? How can you help others know God's desire for peace?

Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son Jesus. Thank you for those who seek to act for peace. Help me/us look for ways to be peacemakers at home, at church and at school. AMEN.

Daily Devotions: Week Four

Monday: Peace seems so difficult for us to achieve in this world. Read Luke 2:1-20 again. Think about what peace would look like in your family, the congregation, the community, the nation and the world. Pray a prayer of peace asking God for what you have envisioned.

Tuesday: Take time to do an act of service today for someone in your home or in the community. You might want to make cookies for a postal carrier or take a Christmas card to the neighborhood bank. Perhaps you can call those who work at the church and offer thanks for their service. How does showing you appreciate the service of others bring peace? What acts of peace can you do this day?

Wednesday: Call a friend or family member and invite them to attend a Christmas Eve service with you. Some people are waiting to be asked. University UMC will worship at 7pm. Other churches offer 5pm or 11pm services. If you are traveling, find a local church to attend.