Tag Archives: Prince of Peace

Advent – Week Two PEACE

Sue’s Note: I must apologize about the order I mentioned for the Advent candles in my first Advent post. As I said, this tradition is new to me, and I have gotten out of order. In doing a bit more research, however, I see there isn’t absolute unity concerning which candle represents which week. Thank you for understanding!

This week Ron and I lit the second candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing peace. On Week 3, we’ll explore Joy and Week 4, Love. (Today’s post contains excerpts from earlier posts written during previous Christmas seasons.)

 

     Hundreds of years prior to the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, penned these words about the promised Messiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

     More than 250,000 nights later a band of angels announced the birth of that Messiah—a baby named Jesus—to a group of shepherds, declaring:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward all people. (Luke 2: 14)

     Thirty-three years later the promise of peace, coming as a babe born in a lowly manger, would die a violent death on a wooden cross.

     Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus spoke with his disciples.

     For three years, he and his beloved friends had done life together. The young men who’d left all to follow Jesus had heard his radical teaching and marveled at miracles he performed.

     Scripture records final words spoken to his friends. Jesus warned them, they would suffer horribly—to the point of martyrdom— because of their alignment with him. Then, he said…

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

     In 1863, war ravaged a divided nation. Brother fought against brother, father against son. The Civil War created many tragic tales, such as that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

     Longfellow’s son had been crippled horribly in a fierce Civil War battle. The grief he experienced as a result of his son’s injury was complicated by the earlier death of his beloved wife, Fanny, who perished in a house fire. During his time of deep despair, Longfellow wrote the words to what has become one of my favorite Christmas carols.

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

…Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

     It’s been over 2000 years since angels sang their song, more than 100 since Longfellow wrote Christmas Bells. Still, we ponder peace. Evening news reports scream violence. Christians still are martyred. Mass shootings claim the lives of young students and elderly worshipers. Women and children are sold as sex slaves. Immigrants, fleeing ravaged homelands, seek asylum in a more peaceful place.

     A part of me is tempted to ask, ’Okay, so where is this Prince of Peace?’ Thoughts of world peace seem hopeless. Hate remains strong, mocking the angelic song to the shepherds one night so long ago.

     Yet, a deeper part of my soul—that place that transcends my human understanding—believes more strongly than ever in The Prince of Peace.

     In the next Listening on the Journey… post, I’ll tell you about my friends, Barb and Will. Their story of tragedy and triumph illustrates the relevance of the peace Jesus promised to leave his friends, showing how that same peace remains available to believers in the 21st Century. Until then…

May peace fill your days…

Sue Reeve