This is the first of a four-part Advent devotional written by Executive Director Joe Tucker.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14
I’ll confess something — I’m a sucker for the Holiday. If Christ was taken out of Christmas, I would still Fa-La-La over for the trees, movies, merriment, jingles, sleighbells, and presents. The festivities of the Holiday in many ways have eclipsed the traditions of advent. It’s easier for me to grab a peppermint mocha in a red cup, then take time to crack open the books of Luke or Matthew (or Isaiah for that matter) for an Advent devotional.
It’s easier to celebrate winter-time merriment than practice the waiting of Advent. I think of all my favorite Christmas-movies (Home Alone, A Christmas Story, Elf, and even Die Hard) all ending with families reunited singing or embracing each other. I know for many families we ‘fake-it-until-we-make-it’ through the season to maintain that it is the most wonderful time of the year.
When it generally isn’t.
For many individuals (perhaps the majority of people?), the Holidays recollect pain, loss, and brokenness. Holiday sentiment doesn’t begin to answer the inner-pain of a miscarriage, infidelity, addiction, abuse, or separation. But does Advent? Does God?
One of the founding values of South Street is authenticity. We try to keep it real. This includes our theology — what we believe about God has to match reality. If Jesus is he Prince of Peace, then there should be some reality of peace in my life, if I consider myself his follower. That’s what the angels in Luke 2 proclaim, “peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When I ask the youth of After School what peace is to them the talk about a serene beach or a quiet meadow — images from commercials and movies. The real notion of peace seems distant in a small house crowded with 2 and a half families yet still struggling to make ends meet. Moreover, the real notion of peace seems distant to me in a spacious house with a nuclear family in 2017!
What peace? Where is this real notion of peace to be found? The practice of Advent slows us to find it … in a barn, with bleating animals and visitors from third-shift shepherds. The angels proclaim peace, because it is not presently apparent. It is the fool who claims peace, when there is none. It is the faithful, the favored, who name peace by claiming it through Christ.
Let’s not pretend that all is well, from deep systemic issues and historic wrongs, to our own individual hurts. But peace is real. If we believe in virgin births, guiding stars, and angelic visitors, we can believe and act in real peace — peace that transcends understanding.
As enjoyable as Die Hard is to watch, a peppermint mocha is to taste, or Winter-Wonderland is to sing, there is a much deeper reality found in the Advent of Christ. This second week of Advent we lean deeper into the reality of peace.
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