Sunday, December 6, 2020

Second Sunday of Advent Message - Peace

Prepare Him Room

The second Sunday of Advent is symbolized by a purple candle often called the “Bethlehem Candle”. For others, it symbolizes the preparation that we need to make in our hearts to truly receive the King of Kings. This king will not be born in a castle or palace. This king will be born in the lowliest of places, a stable, in a small town located a few miles away from despair and just to the west of hopelessness. This small town, Bethlehem, will be the birthplace of a small child born in a manger among stinking animals and shepherds. All those present will find salvation resting in the arms of his loving mother, Mary. Mary will give birth to a savior who will one day take the sins of the world upon his shoulders and will die so that our debt of sin is paid in full.

In chapter five of his book, Micah, a prophet, writes, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the woman in labor gives birth. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land. And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. Then his people will live there undisturbed, for he will be highly honored around the world. And he will be the source of peace.”

Micah tells us the birthplace of this shepherd who will lead his flock with the Lord’s strength and he will be the source of peace and be honored around the world. He will come from a small little village that few have ever heard of. It is not a center of culture or a center of commerce and trade. It is a small town that is barely a dot on a map. In fact, it is a forgotten dot on a dusty road.

This dot is the place where the Savior of the world is to be born. It is so very special to know that Jesus didn’t come from a big city or a place of power. He came humbly into the world with very little fanfare. Many have been waiting patiently for him to come. Some thought that he would be a warrior king who would take Israel to new heights of honor among the nations. He would, by sword, bring enemies to their knees. In him, many thought that the world would know Israel as a country to be reckoned with.

But, he was not that warrior king or general. He came into the world and became a source of peace for all mankind. In him, we see the love of the Heavenly Father. He is our all in all. He is our Savior and, as Peter, proclaims, the Messiah. He is our shepherd, the good shepherd who lays down his life for his flock.

But, before we receive him, we must prepare our hearts for him. It is not enough to put up a tree, some ornaments and watch Christmas movies and cartoons. It is a lot more than that.

It is realizing exactly why he came into the world. We just see the small, small child in the manger and that is all we see. But, if you look closer, you see an unblemished lamb who will be taken to be sacrificed. He will become the atonement sacrifice for the entire world. 

Preparing our hearts starts with peace. The peace he brings to the world. As Christians, we must give to the world that same peace that he brought in with his birth. By sharing peace, we also share love with one another.

Peace is more than the absence of conflict or just a state of rest. It means wholeness and completeness. It is not broken in pieces but brought together in peace. The word, peace, in Hebrew is “shalom”. The Hebrew definition of “shalom” is completeness, soundness, and welfare.

Our preparation must be complete and sound. We cannot just simply look at the child in the manger and leave it at that. We must take the picture of the child and zoom out a bit to see the bigger picture, the complete picture. In its completeness, we see the plan of salvation embodied in this small child who will one day conquer a greater enemy, death. We will see him die on a cross and rise on the third day to give us that eternal life. 

So, as you prepare your heart for this glorious season, remember the small little town called Bethlehem that gave us a small child who will be our Savior and our friend. He will be that good shepherd who will give his life for his sheep. So, I ask that you prepare your heart and give Jesus room in your heart. Let the peace of the season make you complete and whole.

I will leave you with this, “When peace comes into your life and into your heart, welcome it and give it a place in your heart.” That small gift from a small backwater town called Bethlehem will definitely make you whole and complete in your love for the Father so that you can stand firm in His grace.      

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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