This past Sunday was the second Sunday of Advent. (For a fun way to bring Advent home check out my post on Mentoring Moments.) This Sunday we light the candle of Peace. Jesus came to be our Peace.
In my last post, I lamented that we don’t know more of Joseph, the earthly (not) father of Jesus. There is one thing I would say that we pretty well know for sure though. Joseph was a peacemaker. It is so clear in his decision to quietly dismiss Mary, that Joseph is a peacemaker. He wasn’t into the drama of the town gossip. He had no desire to be the subject of it either. He wanted what was best for everyone. He was attempting to make peace.
Peacemakers are consistently sought out by God to make a way for His kingdom. When Jesus sends out His disciples to the surrounding towns to prepare for His coming, He directs them to find people of peace to stay with. Jesus was directing His disciples to do what God had done when Jesus was born. God sought out a man of peace to make room for His kingdom. Jesus sends His disciples in the very way He Himself was sent. He tells them not to bring a bag, or extra sandals, take nothing with them. Jesus came with nothing: no robe, no sandals. (I’m guessing it would have been a little too radical to tell His disciples to go robeless!) He tells His disciples to eat and drink whatever was given to them. Jesus came as a helpless babe. He ate and drank whatever was given Him. And He told them to seek out a person of peace, and stay with them. Jesus learned from experience that a person of peace could be trusted. God’s method has not changed. Every time God looks to expand His kingdom, He will find a person of peace, not a person of fortune, or of fame. A person of peace!
Perhaps this is one of the qualities that keeps us from knowing more about Joseph. You know, peacemakers have a few things in common. For one, peacemakers are rarely the kind of people who show up in magazines. Peacemakers often fade into the background of whatever scenery they happen to be a part of. That’s not to say they don’t make a difference! Let there be a scene with no peacemaker present, and you can be sure their absence will be felt! Oh, yes, peacemakers make a mark, it’s just done with such graceful strokes that no one really knows what has happened.
I know a little bit about peacemakers. I married one, and through his genes, (certainly not my own!) I have given birth to one. I have been frustrated as I have watched the world take advantage of my husband’s graceful ways. His value is so much more than anyone will ever know. He will never proclaim it. He will not fight to make himself known. He will die to himself for the sake of peace.
You see, that’s the thing. Peace requires that we die to ourselves. The last verse in James chapter 3 says “Peacemakers who sow in peace will make a harvest of righteousness.” The very next verse, which is so unfortunately separated by a chapter break, asks this: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” Taking these two verses together as one whole thought as they were meant to be, shows that what hinders us from having and being peace, is the battle of our desires. Peace requires that we lose this battle for our desires.
The promise of the angels to the shepherds at that first Christmas was “Peace on earth”! Ironically, the first question we ask each Christmas is “What do you want for Christmas this year?”
No wonder there is a glaring absence of peace.
Lord may my heart’s desires this Christmas be for peace on earth! And I don’t mean Gracie Lou Freebush beauty queen “world peace”. I mean an in-breaking of God’s kingdom. This kingdom that will bring peace on earth. Lord help me be a person of peace through whom Your kingdom can be revealed in this world and in my home.