Members of our church contributed this year to an Advent Devotional booklet, one devotion for each day in the month leading up to Christmas. It was a good experience -- both for those who contributed and others as well. Here are two that Frances and I shared.
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Isaiah 9:6 "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, PRINCE OF PEACE."
Two December birthdays present us with an ultimate choice -- the birth of the bomb and the birth of the Babe. An editorial in the Christian Century some years ago said, "a plaque at the University of Chicago reads: On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy." The plaque may be found at Stagg Field.
Celebration of the other birth took place a a field too. At the Shepherd's Field there was a blaze of light, without benefit of nuclear blast, and the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those whom He favors" (Luke 2:14). Since that fateful December day in 1942 we have lived under the shadow of the bomb. Has it brought us peace? Missiles carrying bombs have been called "Peacekeepers," and in a limited sense they do promise peace. They cause fear, and fear of massive reprisal may deter an enemy strike. The absence of war, however, is the only peace the bomb promises, and the promise is extremely fragile.
The Prince of Peace offers a much more comprehensive peace. It is the peace of forgiveness, of a clear conscience, of security in the midst of turbulence. It is well-being even when conditions are difficult. Near the end of his life Jesus said to his disciples, "My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27). Which shall we choose, the bomb or the Babe, the peace offered by the world or that offered by the Christ? ....... "Lord, we seek your peace, not only for ourselves, but also for this troubled world, through Christ our Lord, Amen."
Frances gave us this one:
LIGHT AT CHRISTMAS
John 8:12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life'."
There are many references in the Bible to "light," from Genesis 1:3 when God said, "Let there be light," to the last book in the New Testament where we read these words about the New Jerusalem: "the city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light (Revelation 21:23). It is fitting that light is an important part of our Christmas. Since that bright star led the way to the Bethlehem stable, so our use of candles and lights on the tree may illuminate the dark days of December as we remember Christ's holy birth.
For several years in the 1970's people in the Northwest were urged to use fewer Christmas lights because of an electricity shortage. Since that era passed, lights have flourished like never before. City streets, shopping malls and entire neighborhoods are brilliantly lit and a wonder to behold. We may marvel at the sights, yet as we light our own candles and trees and join in the carols, may we stay ever aware of the true light of our lives which comes only as Jesus is honored.
Our church choir recently sang this lovely song: "Lord, let your light, light of your face shine on us, that we may be saved -- that we may have life -- to find our way in the darkest night. Let your light shine on us." (Michael W. and Deborah Smith) ----- "Lord, may your light show me the way and may I share it with others. Amen." Frances Knox