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Advent Week Three- Supernatural PEACE

Peace

The Third Week of Advent

Opening Prayer:

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear Your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to Your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of Your presence.
We are Your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To You we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
Amen. (Henri Nouwen)

Scripture Reading from the Old Testament:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

Opening Question:

What comes to mind when you think of the word “peace”? How have you heard this word used in today’s culture?

 

Advent Reflection:

On this third week of Advent, we turn our focus to the theme of peace. It’s common to think of peace in terms relating to the absence of things like conflict, struggle, stress, and anxiety. When we are not directly experiencing these disruptive aspects in our life, we might mistake the absence of these things for a moment of peace. Yet, like the concepts of Joy and Hope we celebrated during the first and second week of Advent, the biblical concept of Peace is more than our culture expects.

Rather than the absence of something, true Peace is experienced in the relational presence of God. It’s an experience of his complete power and utter authority over our existence, a deep understanding that nothing could possibly disrupt his plan and purpose for us. When we experience the Peace that can only be found in his presence, we are given a brief glimpse into how the kingdom of heaven operates, right here on earth. It is through this experience of his supernatural peace that we begin to understand that we have a King, seated on his throne, sovereignly reigning over all his creation and actively working on our behalf.

This was the message John (who would later be called The Baptist) would declare to the people of Israel. God is coming! The Kingdom of Heaven is near! Repent from the way you are living; change your self- indulgent and self-gratifying lifestyles and become an active participant in his plan of redemption! (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3, Luke 3:1-18)

Just as the angel Gabriel had promised his father Zechariah, John’s voice would awaken the hearts of a people lost in darkness and resigned to a shadowed existence. He would be the first evangelist, announcing the advent (coming) of Jesus, the promised Messiah, who would provide the “way of peace”, a path through the conflict and enmity of sin into a relationship with God. (Luke 1:67-79) By placing our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are freed from sin’s toxic stranglehold on our lives, freed from the conflict and enmity that separates us from the presence of the holy God. Our relationship with God is now one of peace.

This world is broken, fallen and infected with sin. Pain, suffering, anxiety, and distress are things we are sure to experience throughout our lives. A constant barrage of expectations and responsibilities can disrupt and disturb us, sending us into the shadows of apathy and despair. As we celebrate this advent season, focusing this week on the supernatural Peace that we have experienced at the beginning of our relationship with God, let’s not forget the access we have to this same peace in his relational presence. The Holy Spirit, who gave John the Baptist the words to speak as he announced the advent of Jesus, provides a supernatural resource that combats the insidious influence of the world around us.

Take some time to meditate on the passages listed below. Keep a list of things that strike you about the relational promises that are made in these passages. Begin each day by setting aside a specific time where you will ask God to make these promises a reality in your life. Keep track of how the Holy Spirit is meeting you in this and growing your understanding of the peace available in his relational presence.

Supernatural Peace in the Presence of God:

Luke 2:14; John 14:25-31; John 20:19-23; Romans 8:1-11; Romans 15:13; Phil. 4:4-9

 

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How would a prophet like John the Baptist be received by today’s culture? (Think about his appearance as well as his message)

Read Luke 3:7-20.

  1. What questions would we ask of John today? Would they be similar to the questions asked by the people in verses 10-14?
  2. What are some things in our own lives that we need to fix, remove, destroy (paths we need to make straight) in order to fully embrace Jesus’ reign and rule?
  3. How would the sacrifice of these things help us be more aware of the Holy Spirit’s relational presence in our lives and open us to the experience of the supernatural peace he provides?
  4. Think of one person in your life who needs to hear that this supernatural peace is available. Share with your group or family who the Holy Spirit has brought to mind. Have someone in your group pray for this person out loud, asking for God to provide an opportunity this week for you to share this good news with them.

Prayer and Response with Optional Advent Candle Lighting (Modified from Celtic Daily Prayer):
(*Leader reads- People Respond):

*We have waited long for You.
Deep has been the darkness.
*We long for You to shine
right here among us where we are.
*We will not fear the shadows that surround us
if only You will come among us!

*We await the sound of a cry in the night, 
the joy that follows pain, the coming of hope.

(Optional Lighting of the Hope Candle)

* This is the path that the prophets marked
who heard the voice of the Lord, ‘Whom shall I send?’, and they responded, ‘Here am I, send me!’
* These prophets declared the Lord’s simple requirements for his people
to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.
* One prophet said that a young woman would conceive, give birth to a son,
and name him ‘Emmanuel’, God with us!

* Emmanuel would come and preach good news to the poor
and bind up the broken-hearted,
* These same prophets rejoiced saying, ‘A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us!
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.’

(Optional Lighting of the Joy Candle)
* Emmanuel would come and preach good news to the poor
and bind up the broken-hearted,
* These same prophets rejoiced saying, ‘A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us!
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace.’
*This is the path that John marked, whose voice called in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’,

The same John who cried, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of God is near!’ and baptized in the River Jordan
many who confessed their sins,
and who pointed out Jesus, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’

*Today, on the third week of Advent, we light three candles, the First candle represents the Hope we have in Christ, The Second candle represents the Joy found in the good news of Jesus’ advent, The Third candle represents Peace in the presence of Jesus, our King

(Optional Lighting of the Peace Candle)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (by Casting Crowns)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on earth)
In my heart I hear them (peace on earth)
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

But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing (peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (peace on earth)
And with our hearts we’ll hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing? (peace on earth)
The life the angels singing (peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Author:

Just a guy, following God, dedicated to Christ, finding meaning in his walk with the Spirit.

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