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On the first Sunday, we remembered the peace that he brings, and we read from Isaiah 9:6, which says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. He brings peace and he changes us to become peacemakers.
As conflicts take place all over the world today, we want to remember again that Christ is the Prince of Peace; he will bring peace to this earth. Recently we have been reading from the book of the prophet Habakkuk. In my last message, we read about how God would return to judge Babylon harshly for the way they oppressed other nations. In the same way, when Christ returns to the earth he will destroy the Babylons of today and bring perfect peace. A time will come when the forces of evil that oppose God will be destroyed. Until that day, let us be people who pray for the peace of Christ to come.
The kind of peace that Christ brings is different from what the world can give us. Christ is the one who paid for our sins on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Because of his sacrifice on the cross, we have peace with God himself. And not only that. God entrusts us with the work of reconciliation.
Colossians 1:20 says that through Christ, God “reconcile(s) to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Having been reconciled with God, we are now called to bring reconciliation to others. As Jesus taught the crowds in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” So with the help of Jesus, we want to live that kind of life: being peacemakers, doing the work of reconciliation in society, and bringing peace to our relationships with people.
Next, we celebrated Advent with hope. Hope is truly a beautiful word. Without hope, life is meaningless. Recently I conducted a funeral. It was for a young woman who worked in the medical field and whose life ended at the age of 37. At her funeral, I was able to share about her faith and that, because of this faith, she has been called to heaven. It is a promise in the Bible. Before Jesus went to die on the cross, he told his disciples, “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). He would prepare a place for them and then return.
He has prepared a place for us of each in heaven. That is what Christ promises. One day, our bodies will be transformed into something glorious and we will live forever with Christ in heaven. That is part of the hope that Christians have. Jesus Christ is the one who can fulfil the promise of heaven. That is why, as we celebrate Advent, we look forward to the coming of Jesus with hope.
The people of the Old Testament had only a glimpse of Christ’s redemption: they tried to keep the Law, they sacrificed animals for their sins, and they prayed with faith. But it was only a shadow of what Christ would bring. Compared to the hope that they had, Hebrews 7:19 says that there is “a better hope.” Christ has opened a new way for us that keeping the Law could not achieve. Christ is able to take away the guilt of our sins completely and open a way for us to approach God. Let us remember that Christ is our hope. As 1 Peter 2:6 says, “the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
Now, in this 3rd week of Advent, I have chosen the theme of “joy”. It is the kind of joy that we receive through Christ. It is described in the following parable about those who have discovered the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Those who believe in Christ will find great joy. One of the joys we have is the promise of heaven. The promise of heaven that Christ will fulfill. We want to savor that joy and look forward to the future.
The birth of Christ is a joyful event. In Luke 2:10, when announcing his birth, an angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The good news was the birth of Christ.
Philippians 4:4-7 tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I was once given the opportunity to study in the U.S., and I remember having to do a lot of preparation and praying about it. I had many anxieties about going to study abroad. But my worries were eased when I read this passage: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In the same chapter, it goes on to say in verse 19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” God answers us when we pray. He promises to meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory. So, may we live a life of joy rather than a life of worry. Let us remember that Christ is the one who can give us joy.
Next week, for the 4th Sunday of Advent, on which we will have our Christmas service, the theme will be “love”. We are truly loved by Christ. He showed us agape love. He demonstrated the full extent of his love (John 13:1) at the Last Supper to his disciples by washing their feet, even the feet of Peter and Judas who would betray him. He showed his agape love. And not only to his disciples. Also to us, who at times make big mistakes, fall away from God, and close our hearts to him. That is how we are. But God’s love is agape love. Meaning, it is unconditional. It does not depend on being loved in return. Even if we stop loving God, his love will not end. That is God’s love for you.
In 1 John 4:8, we read that “God is love”. Verse 11 says, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” We receive Christ’s love, are taught by it to love one another; and that is how we should live. It is the love of Christ which transforms our lives. During the 4th Sunday of Advent, we will give thanks for the love of Christ that is being poured out on us.
Once again, during this Christmas season, it is Christ who gives us peace, hope, joy, and love. Let us remember this and give thanks.