“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”-- Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
Tomorrow is the first Sunday in December and the second Sunday of Advent. The word Advent is derived from the term “adventus,” or coming. Advent is the first season of the Christian liturgical year. Traditionally, it includes a period covering four Sundays, beginning with the Sunday closest to November 30th and ending at sundown on Christmas Eve. As the word and time period suggest, Advent focuses on anticipating and preparing for the coming of Jesus the Christ.
This sense of anticipation and preparation covers all three dimensions of time. Those of us who understand and participate in Advent, look back to see and learn from the manner in which the first century God fearing people, longingly anticipated and prepared for the first coming of the Messiah. We also look now for ways in which Jesus might appear in our current circumstances. We also expect and get ready for a future manifestation of the Christ of God in a world that still needs comforting, healing and reconciliation.
So Advent reminds us that very soon we will be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The promise of his birth was revealed long before it was fulfilled and this should remind us that his promise to return will also be fulfilled. Advent, therefore, should be a time of preparation. It should be a time of preparation for both the celebration of Christ’s birth and preparation for his return. It should be a time to reflect on sin and the forgiveness of sins which is made possible only by the shedding of the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and receiving this forgiveness through repentance and belief in Christ.
The four Sundays of Advent offer opportunities to preach, teach, discuss and pray for belief and actions needed for four major themes to take root and be exhibited by all Christians. Those themes: Hope, Peace, Joy and Love, are reminders of a God who cares deeply for us and provides a way for all of us to receive the greatest gift of salvation. Tomorrow, the focus should be on peace. This world we live in keeps crying out for peace. Tomorrow is a good time to preach, teach, and discuss this issue because there are many who have lost their faith and trust in God for peace. They question how could Jesus be the all powerful God who is also known as the Prince of Peace and the world is yet still full of violence and unrest.
I believe the Bible is clear that physical safety and political harmony does not reflect the peace that God sent Jesus to deal with. In our sinful state, the reason Jesus came was to restore us to a relationship of peace with God. Ephesians 2:13-18 clearly tells us, “But now in Christ Jesus you who were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, dividing the wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
It is my prayer that peace be with us all forever.
Furman Miller is pastor of Weston Chapel A.M.E. Church in Greenwood and a graduate of Erskine Theological Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity degree. He can be reached at 864-344-3517.