It is that time of year, “Tis The Season” a time of the year that family, friends and oddly enough people we don’t have a close relationship with can and do affect our lives. It is a time more than any other that cruelly empathizes the haves from the have nots. For many it is a time of great joy and families coming together but for others it is a time of stress brought about by family discord, financial worries and the memories of those who will not be around the table this year, just to name a few. This is also a time that the cultural pressures of the season overwhelm the “reason for the season”. This brings me to those candles, the ones that speak to Peace, Hope, Joy and Love. I am always looking for those little gems that can enrich our lives and I am not bashful to share them and the remarkable people who give them to us. Such is the case of an article I found in the publication Evangelical Alliance Faith and Politics, Eight Core Christian Values, written by Brian Edgar, Director of Theology and Public policy for the Evangelical Alliance. I share with you some points he makes in the article, always remembering the Christian celebration of Advent prepares us for the birth of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the reconciliation of the creator to his people. It brings to us four core values of the season which are presented in the four candles that are part of the advent wreath.
Here then are some remarkable observations and expanded thoughts behind those candles from Brian Edgar.
For many of us peace means an absence of war but taken in a biblical sense, there is a much broader concept to the word. Peace is the state of being at peace with our God, having positive interactions with other people, both secular and spiritual. There is for lack of a better word a material security and the understanding that also includes the realizations that this is a peace given of God through the gift of Jesus Christ to the world. There was at one time a Roman Peace known as paxromana which was established and maintained by force. We can mistake stability as peace but the truth is that no Christian should be complacent as long as injustice, greed and dissension are present.
Contrary to popular thinking there is no guarantee that bad things won’t happen and sometimes positive thinking or looking on the bright side of life will not always work. Hope is knowing that Jesus Christ has gone on into the future for us and will always be there for us. Hope encourages us to not overlook the good of this life and it gives us the strength to take risks with an attitude of humility and a prayer of thanksgiving, knowing that God is still at work. There are so many situations that we will encounter in this life that will test our hope but we must always remember this. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.’ (Rom. 15:13)
Here are some thoughts about joy.
-Joy is a quality of being and much more than just an emotion.
-It comes from being a part of God’s ministry in the world and from seeing lives being positively changed and relationships enhanced.
-Relationships are an important part of our experience in church society. We should celebrate with great joy the successes of our church family effort.
-Joyfulness should mark the life of the Christian community and all relationships between Christians as they live and work together for the Lord. (‘Evangelical Alliance Faith and Politics, Eight Core Christian Values’ )
The meaning of love is found in Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s unconditional love is the most powerful of all things and is extended to all of creation. There are many things in this life that bring fear and uncertainty to all people. They are fueled by destructive relationships and damaging situations that in turn make us defensive, distrusting and fearful thus keeping us from experiencing a God who is loving, giving and a source of strength. Love conquers all fears and enables us to extend God’s invitation to all to be transformed and saved.
I alluded to it a bit in the opening paragraph but just as a reminder it is also the season for compassion, a state of being that makes us conscious of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Join us again next week here in the pew.
Life is Good